Craig Shakespeare may have made an outstanding start to his managerial career, but there are one or two areas where he could use a little work.
Taking the credit, for example. Having won four games out of four since replacing the ailing Claudio Ranieri, any superstar manager worth his salt would be bursting to explain how he turned things around. “Nothing’s changed,” he insisted instead. “There’s no secret.” Such modesty! So much to learn!
But naturally, a few things have changed for Shakespeare since he traded in his assistant manager’s parking space for the one adjacent to it. The hours are longer, the spotlight harsher, the workload more unrelenting.
“Definitely more of this,” he said, waving at the web of tape recorders being aimed at his face. “Definitely more press work. I enjoy being out on the training field with the players. It’s still fairly new to me.
“The dog sometimes looks at me when I get home and thinks: ‘You’re not taking me for a walk again?’ But I think he’ll get used to that.”
And Shakespeare, appointed until the end of the season, may have to get used to being the main man. This win merely confirmed the transformation that has gripped Leicester since Ranieri’s departure. Two goals up within seven minutes, they then withstood a spirited second-half siege to earn a first Premier League win away from home since last April. They are doing the basics right: pressing the man on the ball, defending well, running for each other.
“I always felt we just needed to get 1-0 up in a game,” said goalscorer Robert Huth. “Once we go ahead, we don’t tend to lose games.”
It is one of the vagaries of momentum that while Leicester on 30 points feel like a club in pristine shape, West Ham on 33 points feel like a team in crisis. Part of the reason for that is the sense that Slaven Bilic’s side are failing to learn from their mistakes.
It was the sixth time this season that a team had visited the London Stadium and plundered three goals or more. Their basic passivity, their lack of intensity, the absence of pressure on the ball, are all contributing factors.
Clearly, Bilic can see this better than anyone. So why is the Croatian not fixing it?
Are the players failing to respond to him? “Come on, that’s a really cheap question,” he retorted. “Mistakes happen.”
“It hasn’t been the perfect start,” admitted Jose Fonte, the defender signed from Southampton in January. “Things are not going well for us, and there’s only one way I know to put it right, and that’s to work hard.
“Better days will come, I’m sure of it.”
The international break may well have come at a good time for both teams.
West Ham need a rethink; Leicester need a recharge. “We were a bit tired at the end and hanging on a bit,” admitted Huth. “Hopefully now we can recharge the batteries, then go again.”
Good news, at least, for Shakespeare’s dog.