In an era when elite clubs are getting wealthier and the Premier League trophy hadn’t left Manchester or London in 20 years, an outsider breaking the established order seemed unthinkable.
Not many would have thought at the beginning of this season that Leicester City would win the title, that too with two games to spare. But they did the unthinkable and it’s time for them to bask in their glory. Why, it’s a celebration for football lovers, too! It’s a celebration for those who dare to dream. And that’s why the Foxes have won much more than a Premier League title.
And so, whenever athletes face rivals with more talent, money, or far more trophies, the tale of an underdog club winning the richest league in the world is bound to inspire them. The phrase “doing a Leicester” will enter the sporting lexicon.
To realise the enormity of the victory, we need to understand this modest club.
For starters, they escaped the jaws of relegation last season, had 5000-1 odds stacked against them, and were expected to be relegated. Just staying in the top flight was the priority of the club. Their best finish was way back in 1929, wherein they finished second.
Their first masterstroke was signing manager Claudio Ranieri. Ranieri had not coached in England since being dismissed by Chelsea in 2004. Few would have imagined that the Premier League could be won by an old-fashioned ploy as two lines of defence and a counterattacking game, but Ranieri’s men proved that wrong. Ranieri saw it as a plan that might work, and that was probably what he deserves credit the most for. He didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but just worked with the players that were given to him. He even took the bold decision of leaving out his own signing, Gokhan Inler, because he was impressed with the others. Ranieri saw what he had at Leicester and single-mindedly made the best of it.
His squad was reinforced with a net spending of around $30 million, only the eleventh highest in England, but Ranieri did not let that become a factor. Talking about cash, ManUtd had a budget ten times more than Leicester and still didn’t finish among the top three!