Why We Should Enjoy Leicester’s Success Before the Revolution
April 13, 2016
Well that didn’t take long, did it?
After a season in which Leicester City have defied the odds to move within three wins of an historic Premier League title, those with hidden agendas have already begun to undermine what is undoubtedly the greatest top-flight achievement since Nottingham Forest won the First Division title a year after being promoted in 1978. Amid incredible bitterness and cynicism, a plethora of articles have emerged deriding the Foxes so-called fairytale and accusing the media of unfair bias.
Unfortunately, it appears as though some have simply been patiently waiting for the wheels to come off the Foxes title bandwagon. After all, Leicester are not the first Premier League side to punch above their weight at the beginning of the season before fading into mid-table mediocrity. Look at Norwich City’s title challenge in 1992-93, for example, or Aston Villa’s surge to the top of the table with 39 points from their first 20 games in 1998/99. While these efforts subsided, Leicester have remained strong and it is this continued resilience that has finally triggered an outpouring of resentment.
Why is the criticism of Leicester Unfair?
Don’t get us wrong, at Bethut we understand why clubs that have spent millions in the pursuit of the title are embarrassed to be beaten by an unfancied club that has a squad worth in the region of £20 million. We also understand why Tottenham Hotspur and their fans feel particularly aggrieved, as this season represents a wonderful chance for Mauricio Pochettino’s talented young squad to secure a first league title since 1961. The sense of frustration must be overwhelming, but it should not be aimed at a Leicester side that will become deserving champions if they do claim the title.
Just as we would urge Tottenham fans to reflect on the fact that this season represents a new dawn for them and one that is more likely to deliver sustained success ahead of the Foxes, we would also encourage the rest of English football’s elite clubs to learn from the Leicester template rather than tear at its threads.
Even if we understand the source of such frustration, however, some of the criticism aimed at Leicester has been ridiculous. Take those who have derided the Foxes’ style of play, for example, describing them as kick-and-rush merchants whose playing ability has been over-hyped and distorted by the media. As anyone who has watched Leicester throughout the season can testify this is pure nonsense, as while Claudio Ranieri’s men play a simple, counter-attacking style that is underpinned by the league’s most organised defence they are also capable of dominating possession when required.
If you still need convincing of this, check out the Foxes’ 3-1 dismantling of Manchester City at the Etihad. Not only were Leicester stronger, fitter and quicker to the ball, but they also played with great fluidity on the counter and switched play with rapid, incisive passing. Even in the recent game against Sunderland, which was described as being like a Championship match by Sky pundit Graeme Souness, the intensity and quality of Leicester’s play shone through in a number of key moments.
Take Jamie Vardy’s first goal, for example, which came after a superbly-timed run, a raking ball over the top by Danny Drinkwater and a clinical finish. Or, if you listen the the detractors, a wild thrash by the bull-in-a-china-shop Vardy which followed a manic punt down-field by Drinkwater.
Why we need to make the Most of Leicester’s Success
As for other criticisms, such as those surrounding Jamie Vardy’s reported racial abuse of a fellow customer in a Leicester casino last summer and the media bias in favour of the Foxes, these carry the feint but unmistakable odour of sour grapes. After all, who can begrudge the Foxes their time in the spotlight and status as media darlings, especially after years of the EPL’s elite basking in the adulation of the pundits who used to play for them.
It is also fair to assume that Vardy, much like any other human, is far from perfect, and therefore prone to the same indiscretions and poor judgement calls that have plagued some of the world’s greatest ever players. While clubs can be criticised for failing to punish players or reinforcing the poor example that has been set to fans, this should always be considered as a separate issue to the team’s on-field performance.
Instead of finding flaws with Leicester’s achievements and baulking at the use of words such as fairy-tale (after all, fairy-tales include elements of both triumph and tragedy and the word at least showcases the magnitude of what the Foxes have achieved), we should be celebrating them. Even if Leicester do win the title and hold on to the majority of their key players this summer, fr example, they still face a huge battle to establish themselves as a long-term force at the top of the table.
There is also likely to be a revolution at the top of the Premier League in the summer, with Spurs now surely established as a top-four club and Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool all expected to spend hundreds of millions in the biggest transfer window ever. With seasoned champions such as Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and probably Jose Mourinho also entering the fray next year, we should enjoy Leicester’s pocket of success and its novelty while we can before normal service is resumed next season.