Leicester City’s dream campaign shows no signs of stopping. The Foxes sit at the number two spot of the Premier League (2 points off Arsenal), despite starting the season as one of the favourites to be relegated.
The Foxes incredible form has been the undisputed success story of the Premier League so far this season. But how has the club, only promoted to England’s elite division in 2014 after a 10-year absence, done it? “They will fall away eventually. It will never last.” This was and still is in some parts, the common view on Leicester City’s position as in the Premier League.
However, branding their season as ‘pure luck’ is a bit unfair. For a start, leading goal scorer Jamie Vardy has struck 15 times in the league this term, the same tally as La Liga superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo combined until recently. There is no ‘luck’ in that.
Meanwhile, Foxes midfielder Riyad Mahrez (a bargain buy from French club Le Havre), has scored an incredible 13 times putting him ahead of Tottenham’s dynamic Harry Kane who has found the back of the net 11 times.
In addition to this, the decision to appoint the experienced Claudio Ranieri was questioned and even mocked. This was a manager who had just failed spectacularly with his first attempt at international management, losing four and drawing one of his five matches in charge of Greece, with the last these defeats coming at home to the Faroe Islands. Despite having taken charge of Chelsea, Valencia, Juventus, Napoli, Fiorentina, Atlético Madrid, Roma and Internazionale, he has just two domestic trophies and no top-flight league titles to his name. Leicester’s quality, team spirit and togetherness, forged by Pearson, has been further encouraged by his successor and is at the heart of the success story.
With all that said and done, Leicester City were the Premier League’s Christmas number one. Money may talk very loudly in the Premier League but it clearly doesn’t say everything. The ‘filthy rich’ clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, are currently trailing behind the East Midland team.
Navigating obstacles ahead of them would surely bring a few more believers but there are some obvious concerns. Leicester have fielded just 21 different players in the league this season. Only struggling Swansea have deployed fewer and Ranieri plainly does not share his rivals’ capacity to freshen up the pack when the fixtures come thick and fast. Vardy and Mahrez started 26 and 25 Premier League games, respectively, last season; both are on course to be virtually ever-present this time around too. Will there come a point where they will burn out? Or ‘blip’? Who do Leicester turn to then?
Many questions are unanswered and many doubts are still in the back of people’s minds. There is still a fair degree of scepticism surrounded the Foxes’ blistering start to the season as many pundits firmly believed it wouldn’t last, but the results the players continue to achieve, show it was no flash in the pan. Impostors, pretenders, or bang on course for the most audacious title heist of the Premier League era? It is a question that nobody quite seems sure what to do with. In an age that fortifies us all with the tools for strident opinion forming, Leicester have disarmed everybody.
As Ranieri aptly sums up the situation, “Why can’t we continue to run, run, run? We are like Forrest Gump. Leicester is Forrest Gump. I give you the headline there.”