Nearly every football fan is rooting for Leicester to win the Premier League. In a division awash with money, it has been refreshing to see a team built on a relative shoestring play with such abandon and composure. The title has not yet been won, but if the East Midlanders continue to display the same defensive fortitude and attacking ingenuity, they will surely be crowned champions.
Here’s the problem. Leicester were once considered a ‘‘normal’’ club. They occupied the territory of the likes of West Brom and Swansea – fairly unspectacular sides, who, despite possessing some quality, are more often than not just happy to survive. It is well-known that chairmen have become increasingly trigger-happy in recent years. Teams of Leicester’s ilk will look at their success (and possibly that of West Ham) and think that their club should also be pushing for Europe on a consistent basis. Garry Monk was deemed surplus to requirements at the Liberty despite having enjoyed a solid few years before the blip that brought his tenure to an end. While it is great that Claudio Ranieri’s side have paved the way for other unfancied sides to dream big, it could lead to a scenario where anything less than Europa League qualification would be deemed a disappointment.
Another potential pitfall concerns Leicester themselves. If next season, they fall to ‘‘only’’ fifth or sixth, there will be a section of fair-weather supporters ridiculously calling for the Italian’s head. The carrot of Champions League football will I think entice the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante to stay on next season (irrespective of inevitable big bids from rival clubs), but if the tide starts to turn they may start looking to pastures new. Negativity bias pervades modern football: chairmen jump at the first sign of failure whilst ignoring all the successes that came before. Let’s hope that this season’s fairytale is the start of things to come, and let’s hope that chairmen up and down the country recognise that the Leicester story is not the yardstick for success.
Featured image: Tony O’Brien/Reuters