Sports / Updates
Friday, 20 May 2016 13:37 EATamondigovan@gmail.com
No other team has been able to awe the football world like Leicester City did in the 2015-2016 English Premier League season. They were favourites for relegation at the start of the season but ended up lifting their maiden title with two games to spare.
Teams like Nottingham Forest who won the EPL title in 1978 or Greece who were underdogs in 2006 but went on to win the Euros come close. But if you put into consideration the financial might of the Foxes competition this season you start to see the fantastic achievement of this team.
Pundits have termed the win a ‘miracle’, ‘the greatest sporting upset ever’, ‘remarkable’, among other accolades. Bookies offered 5000-1 odds for Leicester to win the league. Even manager Claudio Ranieri himself had said that it was unlikely that someone other than the elite would win it in the near future.
The nature of how Leicester achieved it is even more intriguing. Stats show that until now have they have an average 43.8% ball possession which is better than Sunderland (42.7%) and Westbromwich Albion (40.7%) both of which are at the bottom part of the table. Leicester finished with less points than any of five previous winners.
Another factor in the Foxes fairy-tale run would be the deadly combination of Riyadh Mahrez and Jamie Vardy who sit at the top of the combined goals and assists table this season. When goals from one of them dried up the other picked up, they produced performances when it mattered most. They were just unbelievable. It was not just them but guys like Ngolo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Wes Morgan and Kasper Schmeichel have been great to watch.
It might be argued that the established teams have underperformed this season or that Leicester were lucky because they kept the core of their team fit all through the season while their rivals had key players injured at crucial parts of the campaign. But this would be overlooking the medical staff behind the scenes who have played a crucial role in keeping the team fit and healthy.
Ranieri, nicknamed the ‘tinker man’ at his time at Chelsea because he was famous for changing his side from game to game, has surprisingly put out nearly the same team for the whole season. Almost always, Schmeichel was in goal; Simpson, Huth and Fuchs at the back; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Kante and Albrighton in midfield and Okazaki playing just behind Vardy upfront.
Majority of these players have played virtually every game in the season. The manager also was great with his substitutions.
It was a case of a team which wanted to play for each other and also play for their manager, they wanted it most and at the end won it convincingly finishing ten points clear of second placed Arsenal.
Since its founding in 1884, Leicester had never won the title. Except for the 1928-29 season when it came second, it was always never close to lifting the top prize of English football.
The writer is a trained journalist and lover of football currently working for a management company in Nairobi