Leicester have gained thousands of admirers in the last year for their unlikely challenge for the Premier League title. However, some are less convinced.
Arguably, Leicester are a breath of fresh air amongst a group of stale, decrepit heavy smokers in Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. For a neutral, having a ‘big four’ is the opposite of how football should be. In a perfect world every team would start on an equal footing and the winner would be impossible to predict. Big teams have monopolised the league for decades.
Until now. Leicester, West Ham and even Tottenham have proved that it is possible to defy the odds without massive amounts of money (albeit still a lot), create an admirable team ethic, and come out on top. This season we have been spoilt for choice, in any other season Spurs winning it would be incredible. The fact that it would now be a disappointment shows how unpredictable and entertaining this season has been.
Perhaps Leicester are making the Premier League look weak. Established teams are not winning the league and therefore a minnow like Leicester prevailing stands for the league looking feeble.
On the other hand, whilst it may look slightly weaker on an international footing due to the failures of the big teams, this is more of a reflection on their decline rather than the league itself. Also, when the big teams were winning the Premier League La Liga and Bundesliga giants still beat them comprehensively in the Champions League since the late 2000’s.
The Premier League is no longer the strongest league in the world. But it hasn’t been for quite a while.
However, it can certainly make the claim of being the most entertaining and Leicester’s story confirms that. They have triumphed in the face of adversity. Much has been made of their rise from bottom of the table to the top, but it is worth repeating just how impressive this is. No other team has done this in the history of the Premier League.
Another criticism of Leicester this season is that they have an unlikeable character as a goal scorer (evidenced here by the comedian Jon Richardson):
Football: People going crazy for a billionaire's team long-balling it to a millionaire with an assault conviction. What has happened?
— Jon Richardson (@RonJichardson) April 10, 2016
Whilst Jamie Vardy does have an assault charge and had a racist outburst in a casino, this should not tarnish the team Leicester have created. Football is a team game and should be judged accordingly. Vardy should be accountable for his own vile acts. Furthermore, there are several footballers whose moral compasses are equally as questionable: Terry, Giggs, Suarez and Benzema are all extremely successful modern footballers with past discrepancies that perhaps get overlooked. How is Vardy any different from them? If you moan about Leicester in this regard, Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real must come under the same scrutiny.
The man behind it all, Claudio Ranieri, is an extremely humble man who has not once suggested that Leicester are going to win the title. He’s also entertaining and personable in interviews:
Leicester have plenty of likeable characters regardless. Wes Morgan, Marc Albrighton, Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kanté are extremely hard-working players who have come from obscurity to bust a gut to win every football game.
The only dislikable aspect of Leicester is the unfortunate, clapping apparatus that they give to fans that makes the ground sound like the inside of a greenhouse when it rains- the only dampener on it all. Still, they sound better than the rasping sound of the Vuvuzelas that plagued the World Cup in 2010.
Leicester this season are symbolic of the entertaining nature of football. Passion, unpredictability and above all, drama. Is that not where the attraction of football lies and why it is a sport watched around the world by millions?
If you do not love Leicester’s unlikely challenge, why are you a football fan at all?
Picture from The Mirror.