Who would have thought that when the season started, that at the turn of the year newly promoted Leicester City would be leaders of the Barclays Premier League and almost guaranteed Champions League football next season at the expense of the so called bigger clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. Leicester certainly are the surprise club of the season. Some might have thought that they might have run out of steam especially during a hectic Christmas period, but no, they proved that the position they currently find themselves in is no fluke. And for me that’s down to one man and one man only: Claudio Ranieri.
When Leicester decided to sack Nigel Pearson I thought here we go, they will be another one season wonder in the Premier League and they’ll probably be relegated by Christmas. But as the saying goes you reap what you sow and it was a master class appointment when the Leicester City board appointed the Italian tinker man Claudio Ranieri. When it was announced that Ranieri had taken over the Leicester job it came as a surprise to me because Ranieri is a high profile manager who has managed at the top and I didn’t think that the job of managing Leicester City would appeal to him.
I also never thought that a one million pound signing who before the start of the season no-one had ever heard of would break a Premier League scoring record that was held by a certain Ruud Van Nistelroy. But this season has proved to be a funny season in the Premier League. Jamie Vardy is now one of the hottest properties in English football with reported interest in him from the big clubs not only in the UK but also the big club’s in Spain. If I was Claudio Ranieri I would be doing everything in my power to keep Vardy at Leicester. Because if he leaves this January transfer window I can see Leicester skidding down the league and maybe missing out on Europe altogether.
The way Leicester have performed so far this season has given hope to all the clubs who come up from the Championship, if you play without fear and as a team, anything is possible. They have bucked the trend, they’ve shown that clubs don’t need to spend massive amounts of money to go on a prolonged charge towards the Premier League title, that you don’t need superstar players earning massive amounts of money to move up the and stay in the Champions League positions week on week. It’s not as if Leicester are playing park the bus style football either, no they’re playing attractive attacking football that if you were a neutral football fan you would enjoy watching. Claudio Ranieri has the whole Leicester City team playing for each other which has the Leicester City fans in dreamland.
Look I’m not going to say Leicester are going to fall away because if they do I’ll look a bit stupid if they win the league but I expect Manchester City and Arsenal to up their game for the rest of the season and contest it. But if they keep playing the way they have been so far this season they will push Manchester United and Liverpool all the way for a the fourth Champions League spot. I think Spurs have the other one wrapped up unless they completely implode between now and the rest of the season.
Wherever Leicester finish this season, Claudio Ranieri can be proud of his team, proud of the way they played this season, proud of the way his team have dismantled teams like Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea. He can be proud that his team have been a joy to watch. He can be proud that if his big name players decide to move on that he has developed them and has helped them move on to the next stage in their careers and for the likes of Jamie Vardy he can be proud of everything he has done to make him the household name he is this season.