How did the miracle of Leicester City winning the Premier League happen?

Posted by pt91 at May 19, 2016 12:20 PM |
'Armchair Foxes fan' Dr Paul Jenkins offers his opinion
  • This article appeared in the Leicester Mercury on 27 May 2016.

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All You Need is Love

The world is asking how did the ‘El Milagro de Leicester,’ the miracle of Leicester, occur.  As with all miracles we need to ask ourselves the same question.  Was Leicester winning the Premier League divine intervention after Richard III was laid to rest or was there some other explanation?  This year big clubs which were supposed to win were in disarray for various reasons.  Manchester City and Chelsea had fallen out with their managers, at Manchester United there was a struggle to adapt to the ways of their Dutch manager and Arsenal were underperforming under their enigmatic French leader.

Leicester City had done well to be promoted from the Championship under tough guy Nigel Pearson.  City fought hard to remain in the Premier League under Pearson with a team spirit that resembled ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’.  Pearson left and Claudio Ranieri took over.  Ranieri was a big name manager, but how well would he do in Leicester?  The last big name that City had was the suave and sophisticated Sven-Goran Eriksson - and that was not a success.

Things started slowly under Ranieri and gradually they came together.  So the question is, was this success down to the playing system 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 or was there something deeper.  Jamie Vardy became the league’s highest goal scorer and the results kept rolling in.  Then disaster struck in the home game with West Ham. Under severe provocation, Vardy was sent off and suspended for two games.  Tactics were modified and a draw was achieved with Manchester United. Then after a draw between Spurs and Chelsea the Championship went to Leicester.  A win against Everton and a draw with Chelsea rounded off the dream season for Leicester fans, the miracle had happened.

Where did the amazing team spirit of City come from?  Ranieri is a man of great integrity who concentrated on games: one at a time.  When he was asked if Leicester could win the title, he was very modest and said "I keep on thinking Spurs will win and congratulations to them if they do win." No big ego then but a quiet self-confidence. The players talked of making pizza together, bonding games and even about being blessed by Buddhist monks, Ranieri turned up at players’ birthday parties.  The players were his sons, and in the terrible moment when Vardy was sent off, Ranieri was concerned only to sympathise with him rather than show impatience.

“Love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable of resentful.  Love never gives up; and its faith, hope and patience never fail… ” (St Paul).  We often hear these words in weddings, but they apply just as well to Claudio Ranieri and the Fearless Foxes in their moment of triumph.

On the great day when Ranieri stood with Andrea Bocelli and Leicester would be crowned champions, Ranieri spoke to the fans, he said ‘I love you all.’   It is clear that the love of Ranieri for the players, and the love of the players for the manger and for each-other is very strong. That could explain the difference between Leicester City and its rivals.  So to win, in the words of the Beatles:  ‘All you need is love’.

Dr Paul Jenkins is Honorary Director of Student Music at the University of Leicester, he is an armchair Foxes fan and recently returned to churchgoing after 46 years absence!

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