When Claudio Ranieri walked out into the King Power stadium on the first day of the season, he did so to a large expectant crowd of whom many were sceptical as to his appointment.
They were hoping the decision to dispense with Nigel Pearson, after he had achieved his own miracle in keeping them up would not result in them returning to the Championship. His achievement in doing so against all the odds, made all the more baffling the decision to change manager in the first place.
As Leicester took to the field on August 8th to a Sunderland side hoping not to be involved in another relegation battle, it looked for all the world that these two would be competing for survival once again.
Leicester ran out 4-2 winners with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez getting on the score sheet. This would be the start of a truly remarkable season that sees Leicester heading to Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams, on Sunday knowing 3 points will make them Premier League champions for the first time, having already secured Champions League football for next season.
No wonder there is a movie in the process on the rise of Jamie Vardy and Leicester City. Old Trafford could be the setting for a remarkable season to come to an incredible conclusion and one many never would have dared dream.
Claudio Ranieri has to be a certainty for Manager of the Season while Riyad Mahrez has already picked up Player of the Season.
Ranieri would have been one of the favourites to be the first manager sacked this season after his disastrous spell with the Greek national team. Ranieri lost his job as Greece manager after a humiliating defeat to the Faroe Islands in 2014, despite being top seeds in their Euro 2016 qualifying group that also featured Romania and Northern Ireland.
Ranieri was sacked and Greece finished bottom of their group managing one victory, missing out on this summer’s tournament.
Bringing in Ranieri on the back of his experience in Greece and into a side who had been rock bottom of the Premier League the following season, having pulled off the great escape, looked to be a strange appointment by the Leicester board – and indeed for Ranieri to take up the position having been manager of so called bigger sides in Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Roma and Juventus his decision to go to Leicester was seen as a massive gamble but perhaps a chance to restore his reputation after his disappointing spell in Greece.
Ranieri has more than restored his reputation in the game, and as his side go into the Sundays game the world of football (apart from Spurs fans) are hoping Leicester can complete the job and finally get their hands on the trophy nobody believed they could.
We have all been waiting for the bubble to burst for someone to slip up like Liverpool did in 2014, when that Gerrard slip against Chelsea and the three goal collapse to Crystal Palace saw Liverpool throw away their chance to finally win their first Premier League trophy.
Leicester survived last weekend’s game without the suspended Jamie Vardy with some expecting his omission to be their down fall. Leicester hammered Swansea 4-0 while Vardy looked on in his box. Tottenham followed on Monday but failed to get all three points allowing Leicester to claim the title with another victory.
Sunday’s game will see Leicester head to Old Trafford with a squad of 18 players having cost less than £31million in transfer fees, while Louis van Gaal’s cost £328.5m.
It goes to show that splashing out £50 million on a star player is not enough to win you the league anymore. Desire, passion, belief, team unity, stability on and off the pitch and the support of the fans home and away are all key ingredients to success in football. Leicester have all in abundance.
There are better players in the league in better teams and clubs than Leicester, however titles cannot be won by individuals. Leicester have a team made up of, with respect, failures in the game, many had been rejected by their previous clubs. Danny Simpson was rejected by Manchester United as were Danny Drinkwater, Matty James and Ritchie de Laet. Marc Albrighton was let go by bottom club Aston Villa, Kasper Schmeichel was allowed move on by Manchester City, the list goes on.
Ranieri himself was let go in the Premier League by Chelsea for the self titled Special One, Jose Mourinho. Ranieri will ironically take the crown off Chelsea who won the title under Mourinho last season.
Perhaps the rejection experienced by some of the players and the manager has spurred them on for what will be a remarkable success. It is unfair to call it a miracle as Leicester have worked hard all season to deserve this success, they deserve their moment in the spot light.
While many Leicester fans will rejoice at Old Trafford on Sunday knowing the title is so close, the diehard support would rather wait until the following week when they could clinch the title in front of their home fans and a sold out King Power Stadium.
No matter which day they do it, it will be one heck of a party in Leicester and when the title celebrations die down they can start planning for the likes of Barcelona and Juventus rolling into town for the Champions League next season.
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 29, 2016
Leicester have thrown down the gauntlet to all the other Premier League teams who settle in the division are happy just to meet their minimum objective each season. Leicester have shown other fans that the impossible is possible and their clubs should take inspiration from Leicester’s season.
Leicester City won the League One title in the 2008/09 season; they followed that up with winning the Championship title just two years ago in the 2013/14 season. What an amazing achievement it would be if they could add the Premier League title to their list of honours over the course of their remaining three games.
Winning the title in each of the top three English Divisions within the space of eight seasons would be truly remarkable.
What a time to be a Leicester City fan!
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 29, 2016