“Leicester City, Premier League champions.” At the start of the season, no one could have expected these words to come out of Martin Tyler’s mouth. And yet, after pulling off what could be regarded as the greatest escape of all time in 2015, 12 months later ‘The Tinkerman’, Claudio Ranieri has pulled off the unthinkable. With the league secured with games to spare, Jamie Vardy’s party is in full swing and this true underdog story has reached its full potential. Many see this as a fluke season that will never occur in English football again, but can any other teams mirror this accomplishment in the foreseeable future?
If you look at the aspects of Leicester’s league triumph, everything that needed to go their way went in their favour. You had a manager who was eager to prove himself after a couple of dismal managerial tenures, players who play for the badge and not the name on the back (which are a dying breed as the years go on in modern day football) and a relationship between player and manager which is beyond refreshing. Of course, luck always has to be on your side, and the summer signing of N’golo Kante, a player that Ranieri had to be convinced to buy, has been a revelation that glued the team together.
But if you think about the roots of the team, The Foxes’ manager has been the figurehead for their success, and if other managers in the league can have the attitude of the Italian boss, and maintain the team morale, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Take Ronald Koeman – a manager who’s added much quality to the league, respected by players, current and retired, and has been on the brink of European football. If he can engrain belief into his players that Southampton can make the league their own, then why can’t they contest at the very top of the league?
Ranieri passed on this belief to Jamie Vardy, who has gone from 4 to 24 league goals in a space of one season. This, of course, proves that the Englishman always had the ability, and his manager has allowed him to show off this in a dogged, aggressive manner. Like Ranieri, a fellow Italian in Graziano Pelle is a striker just waiting to explode into action at Southampton. Having spent 2 seasons at St Mary’s and scoring 12 and 10 league goals in each, he needs that dose of reality from his manager to transform himself into 20-plus goals a season player.
Leicester’s success has launched the club into superstardom but had to grind up through the leagues just to reach the promised land of English football. The same applies for AFC Bournemouth, who were in League 2 just six years ago. This rise of the club has been applauded by many, and Eddie Howe has proved that his side can endure a Premier League season, securing survival with games still to play. It’s only taken Leicester two seasons to win the league after gaining promotion to the top division and Bournemouth will be venturing into their second season when August comes around. Many would say that they cannot compete with the heavyweights of the division and suffer what is known as ‘second season syndrome’, but Leicester’s achievement has given teams so much hope to many.
The trademark ‘Big 4’ (Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United’s dominance in the Premier League) was no more once Manchester City’s Arab money shook things up, and Tottenham’s arrival as a major force widened the possibly for potential candidates as winners, but people are still in shock after Leicester’s win. No hiccups, no bottle jobs, no Gerrard-esqe slip ups, they have been a fixed position at the top since Christmas. We will wait and see whether teams will play with less fear and if managers show more loyalty by playing a similar side on a weekly basis, but this year’s win may well go down as the most influential in Premier League history if teams adopt The Foxes’ characteristics. But make no mistake, this is not just an achievement that can mirror overnight.
This very Premier League win will be remembered for years to come and will be reminisced over generations. Sport has the ability to touch us in many ways, but true moments don’t come around very often. The Premier League has been around for 24 years, and there’s only been a handful of moments that come close to this year’s edition. To say that any team will pursue and do what only six teams have done before would be a bold statement. Six Alex Ferguson’s 1999 winning side, a final day title for Blackburn, Aguero’s injury time winner and now Leicester City’s Premier League win. This is not just one of the greatest moments in Premier League history, not just in British sports history, but sporting history in general. Arise, Sir Claudio.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Nikolaevna Romanov.