Leicester City -Wonderful, But No Surprise

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Jamie Vardy silences critics  during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Leicester City at the Stadium of Light on April 10, 2016. Credit: Getty Images

 

There is something very wonderful about Leicester City’s Premiership win. But when the BBC’s Dan Roan (and many others) said that this is something that should not have happened, the couldn’t be more wrong.

Let’s start with the bookies. Whoever gave odds of 5000-1 against the Foxes coming out on top shouldn’t be in the business.  It’s a 20 team league with a load of random factors you can’t control or predict.

But even if the odds were more modest, is it still such a bolt from the blue? Unexpected? Yes.  Unlikely? Yes too.  But what Leicester’s win does is show how narrow the gap between success and failure is.

Jamie Vardy  or  Riyad Mahrez are fantastic footballers –  but  they  have counterparts  who  have the same potential  in the lower reaches of  football, but  just  miss out,  or get injured,  or don’t  progress for  some another reason.

Claudio Ranieri is not an inexperienced manager – but until anyone wins something significant, they can be described as the “nearly man” (or woman).

Leicester may not  have assembled a team  costing hundreds  of millions –  but that does not mean they are poor,  or unambitious, without  a  rich and influential  benefactor, or  poorly  run.

So all the ingredients were at Leicester for success. But  then you  have the  added ingredients  of  confidence  from  good management,  momentum from  good results and crucially  Fate – intervening in referring decisions that  could have gone the  wrong way (albeit balanced by those  that  did –  like Vardy’s  arguably unfair dismissal in a pivotal match against West Ham), the loss of form of key rivals,  and players avoiding injuries.

And let’s not forget that  City’s success   has been built  on  some  fairly  old-fashioned, traditional  values –  speed in  attack,  a robust  defence, good organisation on the pitch, high levels of fitness.

Former Leicester boss Martin O’Neill ruminated that this is the biggest  story in football since the  remarkable feats of Nottingham Forrest nearly 40 years ago (documented in the superb book  by Daniel Taylor) Maybe he is right – but Leicester’s feat is magnified by the  global interest in  the top flight of English  football.  This is a big, big commercial deal which gives the story unprecedented resonance.

It is with indecent haste that thoughts turn  to next season – European competition,  more matches, the pressure  of success, can they  keep it up?  We should resist the speculation and enjoy the a fairy-tale-come-true. Long-term supporters of the club are entitled to the hyperbole.

The dividends of Leicester’s success are dispread across a wide area – from community cohesion in an ethnically diverse city, to tourism, to more kids playing the game. But for whatever reason, and irrespective of consequences, we’ve all got a big smile on this sunny morning.  A good news story, and a sense of hope has been restored.  Well done Leicester City.

 

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