Leicester City Football Club are Champions of England and huge credit to the Foxes. They have defied odds of 5000-1 to win the Premier League (the bookies have been smashed) and despite what anyone thinks or says, any team that tops the table after 38 games (though in actuality it only took 36 before the maths worked out) in this league deserves to be holding aloft that trophy. Leicester fans, players, owners and all associated with the club should treasure this moment as they don’t come along too often and let’s be honest when the fans left the King Power Stadium after beating Sunderland 4-2 on the opening day of the season, whilst buoyed and full of optimism for the season ahead, they were not expecting their team to be lifting the trophy on the same ground 9 months later, but it will happen this Saturday whatever the result against Everton. For me winning your national league title (especially when so competitive) is the best feeling of the lot – ahead of a cup competition as you KNOW you were the BEST over a long period of time and have not just relied on luck. Yes things have fallen in place for them, but they have earned the right to this and made mugs of teams who have spent a fortune and fully deserve all their plaudits.
So how have they done it? Well here is my take:-
To be fair previous manager, Nigel Pearson, began the Leicester fairytale with an amazing escape from relegation during last season with 7 wins in their last 9 games. After his post season sacking, Claudio Ranieri was appointed and little did they know what would happen next. Greece had an awful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign under the Italian and he was promptly sacked in November 2014 after a home defeat to the Faroe Islands. It is fair to say there was not much optimism when he was appointed as manager of Leicester even one of the cities own sons, Gary Lineker was not impressed. However the Italian, along with the existing coaching staff which he kept on moulded a squad of players, some who had been rejected from other clubs, into a crack outfit. The attitude he has instilled in them is magnificent, all playing for each other and earning the right to win matches. They began the campaign by playing a free flowing attacking game in the apparently outdated 4-4-2 outscoring teams to win matches – their only league defeats were at home to Arsenal and away to Liverpool in the first half of the season. Despite protestations otherwise, I felt Ranieri knew he was in with a chance of the title after their 1-3 win over Manchester City in February and from then on he set up his team to be incredibly hard to beat and this is what has got them over the line. He has always had a bit of seconditis when it has come to winning a League title not anymore.
You cannot win anything without your players performing and boy has the Italian got them at it. Three stand out in Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’golo Kante (whoever scouted him over the summer – take a bow!!!!!!!). But they would be nothing without stalwarts like captain and leader Wes Morgan’s defensive partnership with Robert Huth, midfield man Danny Drinkwater, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to name just a few. Take a player like Marc Albrighton – let go by Aston Villa, but now he is a Premier League champion, Andy King who has been at Leicester all his professional career and whilst not being a regular through the season, never let the team down when called upon, he can now add a top flight title gong to his Championship and League One winners medals. Every time the players have had to turn up for their manager (whether a regular starter or just filling in) they have performed and done what has been asked of them. As previously mentioned they had players who did special things that propelled them into this position but the team ethic was key throughout – (the number of defeats tells the story only 3 while I post) and without these efforts the ‘miracle’ would never have happened . A squad full of men who have stepped up at crucial moments throughout the season.
The Medical Department
Unsung heroes of all football clubs when they get things right and at Leicester they are doing it very well. Yes they didn’t have to play as many games as the so called bigger clubs who were playing in European competition but the Foxes have managed to keep a very settled side throughout their Premier League campaign the majority of their starting elevens have made over 30 appearances in their 36 games so far. There are plenty of other teams who were not in European competition who have had a number of injuries but over at the King Power these have been kept to a bare minimum. You do need a bit of luck to keep players fit, especially the key ones, but even when they have had to bring new players in they have slotted in without any problems. The personnel in the medical department (including physios and conditioning coaches) have been just as crucial and deserve a huge pat on the back. A key element in any teams success and they have come up trumps for the Foxes as they celebrate the League title.
Just a couple of other mentions:-
Firstly to their Thai owners led by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, they chose Ranieri so credit is deserved for taking the gamble, because at the time Ranieri’s stock was probably as low as it had been at anytime in his managerial career.
Secondly as briefly mentioned earlier huge credit to their scouting system for getting in players (some rejected from so called bigger clubs) and bringing them to Leicester, just take for example Mahrez 400,000 pounds and Kante 5.6 million pounds – what deals they turned out to be. They saw something and boy it has paid off throughout the squad.
Congratulations again to Leicester City – PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2015/16 – ITS OFFICIAL – enjoy the party, enjoy the madness, enjoy Saturday!!!!!!!
You can also tweet me:- Tweet to @biggishmouth
Go to my facebook page at:- www.facebook.com/thebiggishmouth
or click on this link to pick up:- ALL my latest and historical blogs
You can subscribe for free at www.biggishmouthblog.com – with an email address and then every time I post a blog you will get it instantaneously.