Nobody realistically expects Leicester City to repeat their 5,000-1 Premier League title joy, widely regarded as one of the most incredible sporting achievements of all time. But there are growing signs that their 2016 triumph won’t be the end of their success.
It’s clear this season already that Liverpool and Manchester City are head and shoulders above the rest of the pack and will likely compete for the title once again. Beyond that, the remaining two places in the top four are up for grabs and it’s anyone’s guess who will claim them.
So, there is no reason why Leicester can’t finish third or fourth and enjoy another Champions League adventure next season.
The clubs considered to be the Premier League’s ‘top six’ quickly re-established themselves in the three seasons since Leicester had the audacity to win the league, but Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal are all plagued with issues on and off the field, which presents an excellent opportunity for Leicester to once again take advantage and challenge English football’s elite.
Leicester had made a very good start to the season, but the 9-0 obliteration of Southampton has made a lot more people and clubs sit up and take notice of the Foxes once more.
The present Leicester squad is just as exciting and entertaining as Claudio Ranieri’s class of 2016. They play their game without fear, and in a confident brand of high intensity, hard work and attacking football.
Brendan Rodgers was appointed Leicester manager at the end of February, replacing Claude Puel. Since then, his Leicester side have looked better with every passing month, and as we saw from his time in charge of Liverpool, Rodgers promotes a very watchable style of football.
He has been backed in the transfer market too, with chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanprabha, sanctioning the club record £40million transfer of Youri Tielemans after an impressive loan spell. They also spent £30m on Ayoze Perez and £18m on Dennis Praet; this was even before the £80m sale of Harry Maguire to United. It was Aiyawatt’s way of saying he trusted Rodgers.
The new signings have come in and complimented existing player’s like Jonny Evans, Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante, and the emerging, exciting talent of James Maddison.
And of course, there’s Jamie Vardy. The striker wasn’t enjoying life under Puel and it showed in his performances, but Rodgers let Vardy know how much he is appreciated as soon as he took over, and the goals have flowed pretty much ever since.
Leicester will also benefit this season from not playing in Europe, but this is where they should aspire to be next season, and not just the Europa League, but the Champions League.
There won’t be a repeat of the 2016 miracle – Liverpool already have an eight point advantage on them and don’t look like giving that up anytime soon – but the Champions League theme music could well be playing at the King Power Stadium again next season, it is a realistic possibility.