How has this Leicester hero become so successful at the highest level?
Saturday’s game at the King Power Stadium against Manchester United saw Jamie Vardy score in an eleventh consecutive match, a Premier League all-time record. His 14 goals in as many league games this season has meant a great deal to Leicester’s position in the table, currently sitting in second place. The Foxes striker is also the top goal scorer in the league, with many players and pundits applauding the current form that Vardy is in. Alongside the praise, there are many that are intrigued to know the true reason how he’s become so successful at the highest level of English football.
First and foremost, the main reason is down to himself and only himself. His playing style suits the Barclays Premier League down to a tee, and it’s fair to say he’s getting rewarded from it as we speak. His high work rate, relentless running and most of all the will to win has been a joy to watch this season. This is the reason why he doesn’t think twice before attempting to run in behind an opposing back four to bag himself yet another goal.
This was on show during the weekend’s encounter against Manchester United. Christian Fuchs’ pass was matched by Vardy’s run as he ran behind United’s Matteo Darmian to score his record-breaking goal.
This type of playing style has been characterised by top Premier League strikers who have come before him. Luis Suarez is a name that comes to mind. The former Liverpool forward was the main man that spearheaded the team to second place in the 2013-14 season. Suarez’s unbelievable talent, alongside the ability to never give defenders a break was a key attribute to his 31 league goals in that season, a tally that hasn’t been reached since 2008 in Cristiano Ronaldo. England coach and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville is just one of many to applaud what Vardy has achieved already this season, saying: “he sets the tempo and the tone for the rest of the team and gives no other player behind him any excuse for not working hard.”
The impact that Claudio Ranieri has had on his game shouldn’t be underestimated, however. In comparison to former manager, Nigel Pearson, Ranieri has more experience in the Premier League and in other European leagues. Ranieri came off the back of a dismal run as Greece manager, failing to win a single game. He had a point to prove on his arrival to the King Power Stadium, but his tenure at Greece seems a distant past, looking at Leicester current position in the table. His professional approach and cool headedness is reflected by Vardy’s performances.
Last season, Nigel Pearson was in the limelight for incidents that doesn’t bone well as a manager. These include grabbing James McArthur by the throat, and bizarrely calling a journalist “an ostrich”. Ranieri has always been calm and collective when speaking to the press, which sets the standard as a manager. It also seems that Ranieri understands Vardy’s characteristics on the pitch that makes him the player he is, and lets him get on with his game. Vardy is a fiery character and this allows him to thrive on the pitch. The Foxes manager also has much praise for the strikers playing style, saying: He has great intensity, great concentration. He’s got a strong mentality and never gives up. He’s an inspiration with the way he is because then others believe.”
His success can also be put down to the form of midfielder Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian’s form has reduced the responsibility that Vardy has to deliver week after week. Mahrez has 7 league goals this season, 4 of them in the opening 4 matches. The tricky winger’s unselfishness has also been key, contributing to Vardy’s goals. Mahrez’s pass in added time put Vardy through to equalize against Southampton back in October. In November’s game against Watford, he realized the scoring streak Vardy was on and gave the ball to him to take the penalty in what ended up a 2-1 victory.
What must be said is the unbelievable turnaround of form Vardy has had in comparison to last season. The 28 year old scored only 5 goals for the whole of last season. This makes his statistics this campaign hard to believe, especially seeing as we’re yet to reach the New Year. Vardy’s journey to the top tier is remarkable. From playing in the Conference North with FC Halifax town, to Fleetwood town, to becoming the first ever non-league player to cost £1 million when signing for Leicester City. If Vardy can maintain this form, he is sure to be in contention for the Player of the Year and Golden Boot awards.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Alex Hannam.