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REUTERS - Champions Leicester will be relegated from the Premier League if they don't improve quickly, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said after their 3-0 home defeat by Manchester United on Sunday.
Last season the Foxes won the title on the back of a near-unbreachable defence and razor-sharp attack as they were carried to the most improbable success on a wave of positive emotion.
This term, however, the defence looks vulnerable under the slightest pressure, they have yet to score a league goal in 2017 and anxiety is rising as relegation looks increasingly possible.
"We have to improve right now," a dejected-looking Schmeichel told Sky Sports. "It is time for each one of us, from the top to the bottom of this club, to be counted. If we don't we will be relegated."
The champions have won only twice in 15 league games and a run of four successive defeats has left them just one point and two places above the relegation zone.
Their 21 points from 24 league games represents the lowest ever return for the defending English top flight champions at this stage of a season.
"It's not good enough and sums our season up at the moment," Schmeichel said, referring to their performances. "It (last season) has gone as you can clearly see. We need to stand up and be counted. It has been terrible, it has been embarrassing."
Earlier this week, Leicester's unsettled Argentine forward Leonardo Ulloa accused manager Claudio Ranieri of betraying him and said he would never play for the club again amidst reports that the Italian had lost the backing of the dressing room.
Ulloa, who failed to force a move away from Leicester in the trasnfer window, has since said he would remain "professional".
"I am not commenting on newspaper speculation," Danish international Schmeichel said. "I know what is going on in the dressing room, we are a group of players low on confidence but certainly not low on fight. It is not a comfortable situation."
United manager Jose Mourinho said last season would count for nothing in Leicester's relegation battle but he expected Ranieri to keep Leicester up.
"He is the FIFA coach of the year," said the Portuguese. "That is deserved. His work will be in the history of football for many years. People will remember him and Leicester and that deserves respect.
"It doesn't matter if this season is difficult for them. Champions League is new for them. It is difficult. I am sure they are going to get enough points to get their stability."
Leicester next visit fellow strugglers Swansea City with the Welsh side having been rejuvenated by new manager Paul Clement, winning three of their last five league games.
Reporting by Tom Hayward; Editing by Ken Ferris