The Foxes amazingly gatecrashed the party which ‘rightfully’ belonged to the Premier League’s elite, but can they sustain the momentum?
Regardless of whether anyone really wanted them at the peak of the English game, Leicester City have arrived. Next season, as champions of England, they’d get to play in Europe’s premier club competition for the first time, and many are reasonably excited to see just how well one of the continent’s most thrilling outfits rubs shoulders with the best there is. The question, though, remains: would Leicester be content with the delicious slice of history created by a highly unfancied minnow claiming the Premier League ten points above all else — or would they relax or, at worst, wither from the heat?
KickerGH’s writers debate:
SAMMIE FRIMPONG: ‘Leicester are here to stay!’
Any team could win a Cup, even the coveted Uefa Champions League, when armed with the right dose of guts and ambition.
Winning a league championship, however, isn’t so straightforward. With games coming thick and fast, there’s little time to adjust in-between fixtures — and that’s where quality counts for everything.
It’s even harder to pull off in the suffocating bustle of the English Premier League, thus dismissing Leicester City’s shock triumph in the world greatest league’s 2015/16 season as a one-off could be quite erroneous. Anyone who watched Claudio Ranieri’s charges race to the title would agree that quality isn’t a commodity Leicester are shorn of; it’s probably the one fuel they’ve thrived on. In N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Danny Drinkwater, Kasper Schmeichel etc, the Foxes boast some of the finest talents in the land, and though richer clubs have begun to swoop in a bid to strip Ranieri’s squad down to bare bones, Leicester are themselves only too eager to beef their own ranks ahead of a season when their aspirations are higher than they’d ever been.
The East Midlanders are already looking to bring in fresh ammunition, notably Deportivo La Coruna star Lucas Perez for whom they might just break their club transfer record. They may not necessarily retain their crown next term, but Leicester know they possess the licence to dream and the ability to go with it. Oh, you still doubt?
JIMMY AIDOO: ‘Don’t bet on it happening again, charley.‘
Last season’s English Premier League was gloriously insubordinate, with little Leicester City emerging winners of the eight-month marathon of fixtures in some style.
Seeing the Foxes transition almost effortlessly from an improbable run of good form to an entirely genuine, brilliantly-executed push for the league title and actually winning it was something special. It wasn’t a heist, neither was it a stroll in the park to glory, but a result of relentless effort as they went into games all season with sheer craft and muscle.
Leicester’s story was one of teamwork, cohesion, energy and a sense of belief punctuated, in decisive pockets, by the brilliance and distinctive qualitative balance of men like Kante and Player of the Year Mahrez.
How sustainable this template proves going into next season will be a function of a few variables, however, some of which the hierarchy at the King Power Stadium have little control over.
With a few ‘big’ clubs already making overtures at Leicester’s brightest and England’s slumbering traditional contenders resolving to take Leicester seriously in all respects come 2016/17 (especially from a tactical perspective) and beyond, it’s almost difficult to see how the champions will successfully defend their title. It could be far tougher than they think.