Leicester City - Champions of England
The 2nd of May 2016 will be remembered for many, many years. This was the day that one of the biggest shocks in football, or any sport, finally happened: Leicester City became Premier League Champions. Many football fans are still rubbing their eyes in disbelief that this has happened in the biggest league in world football. Leicester City had never won a top division title before, their best result before this season was second, in 1929! Only seven years ago, Leicester were playing in League One, the third level of English football. Last season, Leicester were bottom of the table for most of the year and only seven wins in their last nine matches saved them from relegation. At the beginning of this season, Leicester City were given odds of 5000-1 to win the Premier League, there was a stronger possibility of Elvis Presley being found alive (2000-1) or the Loch Ness Monster being discovered in Scotland (500-1). How did Leicester City win the Premier League?
Was it the manager?
Claudio Ranieri was named Leicester City manager at the start of this season. Before he came to Leicester, he managed many top clubs in Europe and had finished second with Monaco (France), Juventus and Roma (Italy) and Chelsea (England) but had never won a top division title. When he arrrived at Leicester many people thought that it was a bad decision and that at 64 years old his best days were behind him. He had just been fired as the manager of the Greek national team after they lost a home match against the Faroe Islands (World Ranking: 187) and he was the favourite to be the first manager to lose his job this season. Leicester's most famous fan, Gary Lineker (the Golden Boot Winner for the 1986 World Cup), said that Claudio Ranieri was an 'uninspiring choice'. As it turned out, Ranieri's appointment was inspired. Ranieri's team has played positive counter-attacking football all season and have shown that having possession of the football is not the most important thing. Ranieri has kept the pressure off the players and his relaxed style has helped his players concentrate on football. Ranieri has had fun with the players; one example was giving them pizza for keeping clean sheets. When he was manager at Chelsea he was called 'The Tinkerman' because he changed his team so much but at Leicester he has made fewer changes than any other Premier League manager. Is it a settled unchanged team that has won Leicester the title?
"I am very happy to win because when you start as a manager you hope you can win a league. I won the most important league in Europe, I think, not just Europe but the world!" Claudio Ranieri.
Was it the players?
At the start of the season, Leicester had no superstars, not many people knew about Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy or N'Golo Kante, maybe they knew Schmeichel, but that was Peter Schmeichel, Kasper's dad, from his time at Manchester Utd. N'Golo Kante was one of the few changes that Ranieri made to last season's Leicester team, signing him for £5 million from Caen in France. Mahrez was playing in the French second division when Leicester paid £400,000 for him when Leicester were also a second division club. Nobody had heard of Mahrez and he hadn't heard of Leicester either. He thought Leicester was a rugby club! Jamie Vardy's arrival at Leicester is even more unlikely than Mahrez's. At 23, Vardy was working in a factory and playing non-league football and Leicester was his first professional club when he signed for them in 2012. Now, all three players are superstars, all three are part of their national teams with France, Algeria and England, and all three were named in the PFA Team of the Season. Mahrez won the PFA Player of the Year Award, which is voted for by players, and Vardy won the FWA Player of the Year Award, voted for by professional journalists. Maybe there is one other person that has been part of Leicester success story. Steve Walsh is head of recruitment at Leicester City and he took the decision to bring these three players to the club, in addition to players such as Danny Drinkwater, Robert Huth, Danny Simpson and Marc Albrighton who were unwanted at other clubs.
"It was brilliant, all the lads were together when it happened and it kind of sums us up as a group of lads. I’ve not known a bond like it, and I think the rest of the lads would say the same. It’s a special moment for us lot." Danny Drinkwater, Leicester midfielder.
Was it the fans?
Leicester City winning the Premier League has sent shock waves around the football world but Leicester fans have been sending their own shock waves around the city of Leicester. A team from the University of Leicester have installed a seismometer, a device that measures the strength of earthquakes, near the King Power Stadium, the Foxes home ground. Following a goal in the 89th minute by Leonardo Ulloa, which gave Leicester a 1-0 win against Norwich City, the team measured an earthquake at 0.3 on the richter scale. Leicester's support at the King Power has been fanatical this season. The atmosphere has been improved by the club giving out 30,000 cardboard clappers at every home match, which costs the club £12,000 but they make a lot of noise. The atmosphere has also been helped by the chairman giving the fans free drinks and doughnuts at some matches. Leicester have the best home record in the Premier League this season, but they also have the best away record!
"The clappers allow the supporters to make a big difference on match day. They can all join in and make as much noise as they want to support their team." Anthony Herily - Leicester Spokesperson.
Was it something else?
Leicester have had an unbelievable season but can their success be explained by a manager who did everything right, a group of players who performed better than ever before, or even an amazing atmosphere at the stadium? Maybe there are other reasons for Leicester's success this season? Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is the Thai chairman of Leicester City and he is a believer in the power of karma, which is the belief that whatever you do comes back to you in some way. He invited a group of Buddhist monks to Leicester, from Thailand, and they have been visiting the King Power Stadium for the last three years and blessing the pitch and giving lucky charms to the players. Another reason for Leicester's success might be King Richard III (1452-1485), King Richard's body was found under a car park in Leicester in 2012. His remains were removed last year and the old king was buried at Leicester cathedral in March last year. Since last March, Leicester have only lost three out of forty five Premier League matches. Could this be the reson for Leicester's improved results?
Is Leicester's Premier League title the biggest ever sporting achievement?
Click on talk and quiz below and let us know what you think!
10 things about Leicester City
Leicester is home to a famous crisp factory and they have named a flavour of crisp after Jamie Vardy.
Leicester City's entire playing squad cost less than Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne.
The Leicester players celebrated their title win together with a party at Jamie Vardy's house.
The day before Leicester won the title, Claudio Ranieri went home to Italy to take his 96 year-old mum to lunch.
There are rumours that there will be a film about Leicester City and Claudio Ranieri wants Robert De Niro to play him.
- Vardy scored in 11 consecutive matches - a Premier League record.
- Riyad Mahrez has been involved in more goals than any other Premier League player this season.
- Ranieri is only the eighth manager to win the Premier League.
- Leicester hold the record for most appearances in the FA Cup Final (4) without winning.
- Wes Morgan, Leicester's captain, has played every minute of every game this season.
What do you think?
Is this the biggest ever surprise in football and sport more generally? Why/why not? Can you think of any similar shocks?
Why did Leicester win the Premier League? Was it the manager? The players? The fans? Or something else?
Is this a one-off or can Leicester do it again next season? How will they perform in the Champions League?
Write your answers in the comments section below.