Fleet Foxes

Posted by ap507 at Feb 12, 2016 03:55 PM |
John Williams discusses Leicester City's success in the Premier League - despite their low spend on players
Fleet Foxes

Footballer Jamie Vardy

  • This article first appeared in the Leicester Mercury

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk

Last Tuesday night I was at the Leicester City v Liverpool Premier League fixture at the King Power stadium. I was in the wrong end as it happens, the one housing the depressed visitors.  Leicester won 2-0, prolific local striker Jamie Vardy scoring one of those goals that tabloid newspapers like to describe as a 35-yard ‘worldy.’  Even the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said later that he was tempted to applaud in admiration a goal scored from such an unlikely angle and distance.  Otherwise, the German looked thoroughly miserable – he was hospitalised a few days later to sort out an ailing appendix (and probably a broken heart).

Liverpool fans around me on the night mumbled and groaned about how this profoundly ‘provincial’ East Midlands club, one with no global reach or high-price recruits, had managed somehow to get to the very top of the money-driven Premier League, while ‘we’, the league’s elite but no title since 1990, were floundering around in mid-table.   But, don’t worry: Leicester would meet their match it was argued. After all, Manchester City lay ahead, bloated by Middle East cash, £50 million stars and a Spanish manager in waiting seduced by a reported £15 million annual salary.   Big City would surely put little City in its place.  How wrong could one be?

This weekend Leicester demolished Manchester, barely inconvenienced.  For the first time the pundits and the key power brokers in this business, the bookmakers, began to wake up to what we were all witnessing.  Unconsidered, marvellous Leicester City are now the favourites to win the Premier League title. Trying to draw illustrative comparisons from other sporting domains is not so easy, but imagine a Market Harborough tenant farmer today managing to train and breed a horse in his spare time to win the Epsom Derby.  Or, perhaps, you and your mates got together to patch up a narrowboat and then won the America’s Cup?  This story is really that unlikely.

The University of Leicester awarded an honorary degree recently to City’s Thai Chairman and Owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha for his extraordinary work in reviving the club and thus contributing hugely to the social and civic life of this city, whilst also beefing up Leicester’s global recognition.  It is an award richly deserved. I was in Barcelona in January for an Erasmus project and there was no small talk there about the local ‘galacticos’:  instead the Catalans just wanted to know how this ‘little’ English club had so far seen off Manchester United and City, Chelsea, Arsenal and the rest. ‘Perhaps FC Barcelona will visit next season in the Champions League, yes?’  Are we dreaming here?

Leicester City’s is a great story for life and especially for sport; that money isn’t everything and that good talented people, well-motivated and committed to each other and a cause, can win out.  Already a good lesson for all of us - and just thirteen games to go. As Leicester’s charmingly eccentric Italian coach Claudio Ranieri will undoubtedly tell his players, clichés reassuringly at hand, only thirteen cup finals to glory.  And who would back against his wily Foxes now?

Share this page: