Having lost only three games throughout the entire 2015/16 season, Leicester City emerged victorious in what was known as the most eventful and astonishing season in Premier League’s history. Eight months earlier, we witnessed a pack of approximately 240,000 Leicester City fans passionately celebrating their club’s historic triumph. The streets of Leicester and Victoria Park were filled with the all-so familiar blue and white colors. The blissful celebration over the emphatic run of the foxes, earned through hard work, blood and sweat, extended beyond Leicester to the various corners of the world.
It was safe to say that not only did it bring about a sense of elation to the lifelong Leicester fan, but also made the entire football fan base delightful. Leicester City became the living proof of the statement – there will always be more to football than just power and money, the spirit will always remain unchanged. The Foxes broke all barriers to restore the lost pride towards the beautiful game, and to reestablish the fans’ faith and love for it.
‘’What happened last season in England was amazing, something strange. ‘The god of football said Leicester must win, and they did. They did.’’ – Claudio Raneiri
However, the saying ‘’there comes sunshine after every storm’’ deeply embedded into the hearts of many around the globe. Invert that into ‘’there always comes a storm after the sunshine’’ and you will be given Leicester City’s current situation who are free falling in the 2016/17 season.
It is clear that the Leicester fan base and players were brought back to the ground at a speed-of-light pace when they lost their first FA Cup match up against Manchester United, and first league game to a mediocre Hull City team (no offense Hull City fans). To an average eye, this would seem like a forgettable upset, but before they knew it, Leicester City saw themselves with only 3 points while barely floating over the relegation zone, crawling towards the end of the year.
To put things into perspective, the blues have only won five, lost nine, and tied six in domestic play – including their very inspiring but not really win over Manchester City after suffering a humiliating 5-0 defeat in the hands of Portuguese side FC Porto in the group stages of the Champions’ League. To make things worse, their relationship with the FA has taken a hit as well over the humorous 30,000 Jamie Vardy’s fiasco. The Foxes have rapidly downgraded from where they were eight months ago.
There are several speculations and theories regarding what humbled Leicester City to where they are with some as bizarre as issuance of ‘’black magic!’’
Many do believe that Leicester’s success last year was not due to their own strengths but due to their rivals’ weaknesses which they manage to capitalize on. Many top title contenders like Manchester United and Chelsea were downright out of form, both having bounced back this year with record signings. Although the above might sound like utter nonsense, it cannot be entirely ruled out. Leicester’s squad weakened especially with the departure of their backbone Kante, whereas their rivals’ spent on enriching their respective squads. According to transferleague.co.uk, Leicester City spent £68.7 million on new players despite winning the Premier League which earned them a prize money of £93 million, apart from the funds received from the sale of N’Golo Kanté (£30 million). Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea in their own capacity spent well over a £110 million each during the transfer window. The current performance of the clubs indicates how the Premier League giants improved the depth and stability in the current season.
Adding to that, Leicester City had to adapt to a new schedule – UEFA Champions League. Turning out to play twice or sometimes even thrice a week with some of your main players over the age of thirty, can be very challenging at times.
Moreover, a major issue possibly emerging in the dressing room is the attitude and morale of the players. It is easy for players to lose morale after a few bad matches, believing they will never win again. And this is where the FIFA Coach of the Year, Claudio Ranieri comes into play.\
It would be on him and his technical staff to ensure that the players are able to shake this aura off and regain their footing. If Claudio Ranieri can bring about a revolutionary change in the dressing room and mindsets of the players in the current half of the season, if he can concoct the perfect Leicester mentality, the Foxes might battle off relegation and even perhaps aim to clinch to a European spot.
Ranieri needs to prove himself for more than just one season in the top flight, and this would require coming up with a robust plan other than rely on counter-attack, though it worked with a team like Manchester City, but usually tends to fail with mediocre teams. Referring to their games against Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Watford, and Stoke City.
Maybe the ‘’Gods of Football’’ which Ranieri quotes so frequently will be able to help him achieve one more.
The upcoming few domestic league fixtures has Leicester City face Chelsea, Southampton, Burnley and Manchester United, in that very order. Although not the easiest, if the Foxes can disrupt the table against the mentioned opponents, they could possibly find themselves hovering just above the middle of the table. The Foxes’ also have a better goal difference when compared to few of their compatriots at the bottom of the table. As of now, they were able to stay secure away from relegation by beating West Ham 1-0 and securing a point from the goalless draw at Middlesbrough.
History proves that one-season wonders do occur once in a while across leagues around the world. The faithful will be hoping that such is not the case with Leicester City, and that they bounce right back up. And a similar sentiment can be echoed by fans around the globe. Leicester City is a club close to each and every football fan’s heart, regardless of where your allegiance lies. Let this be known, the impeccable and unprecedented 2015/16 season will always be remembered.