In what has undoubtedly been the story of the 2015-16 Premier League season, Leicester City are in pole position to top the table and win the title in May, but what are the secrets to their success?
Leicester fans and Gary Lineker, a former Leicester striker, waited 10 years for Leicester City to be promoted to the Premier League, but last season it looked as if they were going to be relegated – at the start of April 2015, the Foxes were seven points away from safety.
Now they are seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with six matches remaining, after a win against Southampton. Captain Wes Morgan scored the only goal of the game, and later said “The games are much tougher, and they are not as frequent. There is a lot of preparation going into games, a lot of thought. We approach games in the way to maybe stop the opposition first, then try to win in different ways.”
The players have been an integral part of Leicester’s success, with each member of the squad full of confidence and in fantastic form. Leicester City boast one of the best defensive records in the league – they’ve conceded just twice in their last six matches – while midfielders Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante have been picked for their international sides, England and France, for the first time. Player of the Year candidates Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have also contributed to the Foxes’ assault on the title, as has goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel – son of legendary Manchester United stopper Peter.
However, arguably the biggest difference this season has been the input of Claudio Ranieri, Leicester’s manager. Ranieri, formerly a flop at Chelsea, Juventus and the Greek national team, has overseen one of the most remarkable transformations in English football history, as the club have gone from relegation battlers to champions elect. The Italian is now a shoo-in for the prestigious Manager of the Year award. When questioned about the future of the team after this season, he said: “we are building a very good team. The most important thing a good coach must do is build the team around the characteristics of his players. The team is the superstar, but there are no superstars. And everyone must be working. Of course, my experience can help them.”
We’ll see what happens to the likes of Mahrez, Vardy and Kante in the long-term, but for now, neutrals the world over are cheering on the men in blue as they aim to make history.
Contact: Janie Rabet