10 Reasons why Leicester City won the league

by Ray_North on May 3, 2016

UnknownIt really is a truly amazing story, a heart warming story, a story of an unfancied underdog overcoming the well-groomed poodles of London and Manchester – Leicester City have pulled it off, they’ve won the league.

For the record, I predicted, in my annual Football prediction piece back in August, that Leicester City would be relegated in 18th position (I had Arsenal as Champions with Chelsea just behind them!)

So. Why have Leicester City won?
Why, this season, have they become the first team to break the tedious hegemony of Manchesters United and City, Chelsea and, occasionally, Arsenal?

Well, I’ve put together my list of ten factors that made this season, the year of the Foxes.

1. The Manager
Unknown-1When Claudio Ranieri was appointed gaffer at the Kingpower Stadium, last July, most football pundits were sceptical – after all, he’d been sacked by Chelsea following claims of indecision and excessive tinkering; and he’d recently had an awful spell as manager of the Greece national side, which had seen them lose to the Faroe Islands. But, Ranieri, against the odds, became a superb fit at Leicester, faced with a small squad, he resisted previous urges to tinker with the team; but, that didn’t mean that he was afraid of using his vast experience to change the style and formation when necessary – but, when he did, he used the players available to him beautifully, whilst his personal style, which is laid back, almost serene, meant that his squad always felt comfortable and confident, even when the whole of the football world was predicted their demise.

2. A System That Worked
Staying with the manager, what Ranieri did was find a system of playing that suited his players – using the pace of Vardy up front and the swift counter attacking skills of Mahrez and Albrighton, together with the solid back four, he was able to put into a place a system of counter attacking football, that took many teams by surprise (particularly early in the season) – in Leicester’s favour was the fact that most teams felt that they could get three points against them, and so went to attack them, thus playing into Ranieri’s and Leicester’s hands.

3. A Back 4 That Can Defend
There’s more to this than the blindingly obvious – many teams these days, play with very advanced full-backs and centre halves who seek to play the ball out of defence – Ranieri’s back four of Fuchs, Simpson, Morgan and Huth, are more like a throwback to another age (they remind me very much of Clough’s brilliant Forest back four, Anderson, Clark, Lloyd and Burns) – the two full-backs (Simpson and Fuchs) tuck in and defend rather than trying to always overlap, whilst the experienced Morgan and Huth in the middle of the defend, are no-nonsense, centre-halves, with vast experience, who see themselves as stoppers first and foremost – it’s made Leicester very difficult to attack.

4. A Stable Team
The irony of The Tinkerman winning the Premier League through a policy of hardly tinkering is not lost of football fans, but it’s true, the Leicester City team of 2015/16 is one that, in years to come, men of a certain age, will be able to name from 1-11. It’s another nod to the ‘old days,’ when everyone could name the entire Leeds, Liverpool or Derby teams that were dominant in the 1970s. In those days, it was thought of as absurd to spend big money on a striker and stick him in the reserves; Leicester have gone back to that ethos making a mockery of the ‘big teams’ who lament the fact that they might have only five world class holding midfielders in their squad of forty.

5. Massive Club Spirit
To my mind, it’s not fair to say that Leicester’s success is simply down to a ‘club spirit’ that’s massively patronising, you don’t win the English league, by simply going out and trying your best – but, what Leicester have are proper fans (by that I mean, people who go to the game week in week out, without having a great deal of expectation of success), local fans, people who care passionately about the club – which is different from the ‘big teams’ who have often moved away from their traditional fan-base, many of whom can’t afford the exorbitant prices. As the season wore on, this massive wave of passionate support, grew increasingly important.

6 A Huge Stroke of Luck
Nothing wrong with having luck on your side – after all, Machiavelli, said in The Prince that fortuna was as important as any political-craft when he advised the young Cesare Borgia, whilst Napoleon always prayed for generals who were lucky, Leicester enjoyed the luck of not losing their key players to injury – which enabled Ranieri to keep his squad going and allowed the players to become familiar with each other and confident in what they were doing.

7. The Self-Destruction of RivalsUnknown-3
Liverpool sacked Brendan Rodgers when results weren’t going their way; Chelsea mounted the worst campaign of any defending champions and did away with the Special One, Jose Mourinho, amidst dressing room rancour; whilst Man City destroyed themselves the minute that they decided to publicly announce that they would be replacing their popular manager Pellegrini with Bayern’s Pep Guardiola; Arsenal also seemed to make themselves fragile as the fans grew restive with Arsene Wenger’s seeming inability to work out what was wrong with the team. Only Spurs, proved themselves to be a team that was worthy of contending with the mighty Foxes and, I for one, allow myself a sly grin at the demise of the ‘big five’ who, let’s face it, have often acted with barely concealed contempt for their less well-off comrades.

8. The Goals of Jamie Vardy
To compete in modern football, you have to score goals – Leicester fans sang, ironically, ‘we’ve only got one man,’ when their Vardy-less team went 4-0 up against Swansea, but, the contribution of Vardy cannot be underestimated, his pace, finishing and doggedness has proved invaluable, keeping opposition teams on their toes and ensuring that Leicester always took the pitch confident that they could put the ball into the back of the net.Unknown-2

9. Team Spirit
As opposed to club-spirit, by team spirit, I mean the determination of the team to succeed, much of which was forged in their own personal disappointments – each of the players in the squad, has had to cope with some kind of professional rejection at some point in their careers, take the midfielder, Danny Drinkwater, discarded by Man United four years ago, after being on their books for a decade, he dealt with that devastation with sheer bloody minded determination to succeed elsewhere – now, he’s won a Premier League medal and and England cap – each of the players has a similar story.

10. N’golo Kante
Is perhaps one player who every club in the land would love to have in their team – signed from the French second division for the price of a pie at Stamford Bridge, he has become the very epitome of the perfect holding midfielder, superb in the tackle, incredibly fit and strong, with a brilliant ability to make the right pass (usually to his equally superb and more feted Riyadh Mahrez), to me, he, more than any other player, has allowed Leicester to tick so smoothly this season.

So, there you have it leicester City, Champions of England, 2016! I applaud them and wish them every success for their European Campaign of 2017… can the fairy tale continue?

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