Leicester did indeed win the FA Cup last season and ended 5th in the Premier League, but to say it’s over achieving is a kick in the teeth really, this is excactly what the owners had in their mind and that would be possible to do on repeat, the squad and the manager is good enough for that sort of record.
What happened in 2015/16 is probably a bit more difficult to copy but if you are to be in with a chance in the future you need a certain standard in place and you need to go by these key points without them you are lost and you will see that never happen.
This is how Leicester City won the Premier League and why they did it, and often seen as key points for every Premier League winner season in and season out.
- Almost no injuries and your best players available for games week in and week out
- Keep a steady team with few changes from game to game
- A settled system and players drilled and played in their best positions
- Total belief, total commitment
- Fans supporting their team and giving that extra push during all minutes of the game
- Fighting spirit above everything else, winning every tackle and every duel on the pitch
- Three to four players who play the piano and the rest working their socks off and carries it
- An avarage age between 27 and 29 one or two above 30 and a couple of youngsters
- Not too many changes and a squad of only 15 or 16 players in the mix for places
- One or two players who have been there before and experienced the thrill of winning the league
- Focus on Premier League and no distractions as the top priority is set early on
- A manager focused on his club and no distractions from other parties
- A few players taking the next step and exhale to their next level
- Other teams having a few struggles on their hand and not getting it 100% correctly
- Full international players and players taking the step into those squads
- The squad also need a certain mix of players newly signed, a few youngsters and long serving members. You will not win with a team of players without little or no time at the club
- The captain must be on the field and showing he defends the badge in the best way possible
To win Premier League is a tall order and especially if you are a team a bit below in the financial pyramid and you have to use other tools to get to the very top, but no, it is not impossible as we have seen in English football and in Europe with Lille in France last season, Leicester in England and Bodo Glimt in Norway. We have seen Leeds United, Aston Villa, Everton, Derby County, Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest being surprising winners of the league with the giants having generation problems or just can’t get it correctly.
When Leicester grabbed the title all of these 17 points above were in place and you could tick all the boxes. The same to be said when Aston Villa, Derby County, Everton and Nottingham Forest did the same in the past. Liverpool and Manchester City are the same and Arsenal as we all know had at least a very settled back four, a solid goalkeeper and of course those club players and fantastic individualists.
Manchester United did use many players and not playing the same team week in and week out, using more than 30 players in several seasons when they won the trophy and that makes it even more impressive as the rotation means a more difficult mix of relations inside the team.
Leicester had done a few signings in front of the 2015/16 season introducing Shinji Okazaki, N’Golo Kantè and Christian Fuchs as steady members of the magic eleven. Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel, Jamie Vardy, Andy King, Jeffrey Schlupp and Riyad Mahrez with a bit of routine and a solid tally of games under their belt during and going into that season. Robert Huth, Danny Simpson, Leo Ulloa and Marc Albrighton all being signed a season before and contributing with a long past and steady careers at other clubs.
The players were at a perfect age and you had Okazaki, Fuchs, King, Mahrez, Morgan, Vardy and Huth who all were full internationals and had a routine from playing with and against the best in the pick. They new what sort of level you had to be on to win against the best.
The manager, Claudio Ranieri, had a grand and very special background winning trophies and being part of winning cultures at the very highest level in football. He could relate to the situation and new what it felt like and how to cope with the stress around such a difficult situation.
Wes Morgan was a talisman that season and the group had were in the age of 25 to 29. That makes it also easier to bond and keep a good relation. Having players with grand gaps in age split from 19 to 21 and 30 to 37 makes it difficult to establish a winning culture as the energy level and bonding abilities are not at the same.
There were few injuries and that is of course a bit of luck with the situation we have seen at Leicester in recent seasons you must say that the results have been above expectations. Brendan Rodgers do like to work with a small unit, but with these injury problems been challenged heavily and sometimes errors are done and TCF feel that he get stressed and changes systems too often as he tries to field his best players instead of trusting the DNA which at the moment is a bit out of control.
We have seen Brendan Rodgers going against these monumental rules above and of course getting punished as his teams are as unpredictiable as the results collected. You must believe in a settled eleven, and if injury strikes have players who can be slotted in and of course if you are missing your most valuable players it will never work, as we have seen at Liverpool, Man City and Tottenham in the past, but resting them will not be the best solution as you never know when an injury strike and if you play game in and game out your body will be stronger and able to cope with more stress.
You also need to gamble on your best eleven and play it as much as possible, but of course playing a weaker and if crises appear see the U.23 players as possible replacements and lift their spirit and level as it will if they know they will be called on if problems occure.
The worst and quick fix is to go out and buy new players to try to fix every problem. Better to take players on loan as you can restart with your current group when they return from injuries. Buying fringe players is a deadly sin and it will give you problems. Your squad of players must be in a state that they are either in balance with their expecations or above them, and if you disturb that balance you will always see decline. Buying players should never be short term but in a perspective to keep them and play them.
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