Last season was remarkable, but it’s safe to assume that it was an anomaly: it’s rare for such an underdog to win a major league in modern football.
The closest example prior to this in Premier League history was Blackburn Rovers in 1995, but even they had a significant influx of money in the years previous to that season which enabled them to buy Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton for record fees.
Leicester managed to win the league without spending ridiculous amounts of money, and focused on creating a strong team ethic rather than buying world class players.
It will certainly go down in history as one of the greatest underdog stories in team sport ever, but now the new season is upon us and its highly unlikely that they will reach the same heights, so a realistic set of aims needs to be implemented.
The increase in competitiveness of the Premier League for the upcoming season due to the amount of elite managers that have been hired by the traditional big clubs makes it even harder for a team like Leicester to get back into the European spots.
Leicester were also helped last season by the fact that most of the top teams struggled throughout the season, which is unlikely to happen again although nothing should be taken away from the brilliant performances by the Foxes. They also didn’t have European competition to contend with like they do for the upcoming season, and they didn’t play strong teams in the domestic cups, so they could afford to play their strongest team week in week out in the league.
It’s also true that bigger teams are investing heavily because of their managerial changes, bringing in players in who can adapt to the new styles that these managers are trying to implement.
The other teams in the Premier League have had the chance to think about how to combat Leicester’s style of play as well which makes it much harder for them because the opposition will probably play deep in order to deny the space for over-the-top balls to Jamie Vardy which worked so well last season. On top of this, N’Golo Kante has left to join Chelsea which will be a big hole to fill due to his natural ability to break up opposition attacks, and immense work ethic which kept the team ticking.
Realistically, it may be prove to be wise for Leicester’s target in this Premier League season to be avoiding relegation first and foremost with the optimistic intention of finishing in the top half in order to allow them to focus on the cup competitions.
This depends on how the season starts though, because if they have a great start while the other teams struggle to adapt to the new styles then it may prove pragmatic to focus early season effort on the League and Champions League rather than the domestic cups. This, however, is very dependent on certain circumstances, so ensuring passage into the later rounds of the cups is probably the best idea going off the limited knowledge we currently have.
Winning some silverware would be a nice way to please the fans after the excitement they had last season because the big teams are going to be thinking about winning the title or finshing in the European places as their focus, giving an improved chance for Leicester and smaller teams in the domestic cups.
The League Cup may be the best chance for silverware as it is less prestigious then the other competitions the big teams are involved in, so playing a strong team in that competition will give Leicester a good chance. Leicester have, of course, won this before – so in some ways it’s a mission already accomplished by the club.
Winning the FA Cup would be another way for Claudio Ranieri to bring more success to Leicester because they have never won that particular trophy before and instead they have 4 runners-up medals to their name, so winning this may be a way to take attention away from their lower position in the league. It would also be a potential way for Leicester to gain European football in the next season.
This is the really exciting part of the new season the first season in Europe’s top club competition, and this combined with the money earned from doing well in this competition means that doing as best as possible in this will be a natural aim for the season.
The summer additions will certainly help Leicester because the European fixtures certainly take a lot out of the players, so having talented players such as Ahmed Musa and Bartosz Kapustka to back up the players from last season will be key due to it giving them the extra energy and spark in big matches.
Winning the Premier League also makes Leicester top seeds for the group stage draw, giving Leicester a huge chance of progression. It is likely that they will get an easier group, and that in turn will give them an incentive and motivation – if they needed any more – to do well.
For the start and early stages of the season it would be smart for the Foxes to stress survival in the Premier League and domestic cup silverware as their main aims and then build it from there.
There should also be a focus on getting as far as possible in the Champions League because of how popular it would be with the fans as well as how much money it would bring into the club. This money combined with the winnings they obtained from winning the league could really propel them into big club status, and make European football a regular occurrence.
The focus on small objectives would be similar to what the club did last season: Ranieri constantly stated to the fans and the media that he had modest aims which started with survival and then slowly built up as they continued their run and eventually evolving into winning the league.
The success of this method last season means that it should be done again in order to keep the expectations of everyone associated with the club realistic, and therefore keep everyone working hard towards a common aim, rather than focusing on the possibilities.
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