Leicester f***ing City are the champions

Date published: Monday 2nd May 2016 10:42

Leicester City are Premier League champions.

For those still in disbelief, break that simple sentence down: Leicester City, a side who have never won an English top-flight title or an FA Cup.

Leicester City, a side who have spent 63 seasons out of 111 in either the second or third tier of the English football league.

Leicester City, a team who were playing in League One seven years ago, and who battled relegation valiantly last season. A side who were tipped for similar challenges by every football ‘expert’ only last summer. Yes, including us.

Premier League champions. Before this season, 23 teams had won England’s top flight; five had won the Premier League. Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City are established challengers, supported by the largest finances, boasting the best players, managed by the finest coaches.

Blackburn had forever been the anomaly, a team funded by a multi-millionaire upstaging the elite to win the title over two decades ago. Rovers have enjoyed an incongruous existence on such an illustrious list; the addition of Leicester is just downright bizarre.

And yet here we are. A team of lower-league mainstays, from Jamie Vardy to Andy King, marshalled by Championship stalwart Wes Morgan. A collection of outcasts, from Manchester United rejects Danny Drinkwater and Danny Simpson to Stoke cast-off Robert Huth. Even the manager was sacked as Greece national team coach less than 18 months ago after defeat to the Faroe Islands. Claudio Ranieri was ignominiously removed from his role as Chelsea boss 12 years ago, with lingering doubts over the Italian’s ability to win an elite championship. Fate has decreed that the Blues would play a deciding role in this most remarkable of career turnarounds.

Many have asked where Leicester go from here. With a title defence and Champions League assault on the horizon, who do they sign? Who do they keep? How can they follow such unprecedented success?

Such questions miss the point. Leicester City should never have been in this position. A side who finished 14th in the Premier League one year ago should not have designs on winning the title within 12 months. They should be preoccupied with a relegation battle, with fighting to finish in mid-table. Leave title challenges to Arsenal, to Chelsea, to Manchesters City and United. Not little Leicester.

Moral dilemmas have seeped into the backbone of this fairytale. There is a time and a place to consider these issues, and it is not now. Leicester deserve their moment to celebrate. They will be joined by fans of every other club who have ever been written off or ridiculed, or advised that they should limit their ambitions. Leicester now provide the eternal answer for anyone who is told that they cannot aim high and achieve higher.

Regardless of your feelings towards those involved in this production, one thing cannot be denied: this is the most surprising league title win in the history of English football. The rule book has not been ripped up, it has been shredded, set alight, buried, dug up, locked in a safe and thrown in the river. Leicester are the authors of the new edition. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Just do not try and understand it, because it is simply unfathomable.

Leicester City are Premier League champions. The f***?


Matt Stead

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