Leicester City have finally returned to the pinnacle of the English league ladder. It’s been a decade of ups and mainly downs for the Foxes, in their quest to make it back in to the elite twenty. In such time, the club has had a complete makeover, so here is what fans of the Premier League can expect from the East Midlands’ new boys next term.
An abundance of young talent and players with a point to prove
The saying goes that “you can’t win anything with kids”. City disproved that among many other clichés last season when their young squad led them to Championship glory with 102 points. Whilst, Leicester have benefited from the experience of older players such as Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Marcin Wasilewski and club captain, Wes Morgan, several of City’s key players of last term were under the age of 24.
In defence, academy graduates Liam Moore and Jeff Schlupp, both 21 have asserted themselves as major players with the former attracting interest from top Premier League clubs and the latter being named amongst Ghana’s provisional World Cup squad after adapting to a new position last term.
However, it’s Leicester’s midfield that boasts the greatest plethora of young talent. Centre midfield maestros, player of the season Danny Drinkwater, 24 and young player of the season Matty James, 22 have formed an impenetrable partnership in midfield, building on their synergy whilst youngsters at Manchester United. City can also boast continental flair on the wings in the form of terrace hero Anthony Knockaert, 22 and Algerian international Riyad Mahrez, 23 who are both capable of producing flashes of brilliance. Both will surely make the step up in to the classier surroundings of the top flight.
City also possess a crowd of players with points to prove in the top-flight. Fierce competitor Kasper Schmeichel will be hoping to shake his father’s reputation and establish himself in his own right whist showing he’s worthy of being linked with the likes of Milan and Real Madrid. David Nugent and Paul Konchesky each will be eager to demonstrate that they’re still good enough for top level football whilst top-flight débutant Wes Morgan would love to show he can make the step up having twice been named in the Championship team of the Season. But most of all, ex-Fleetwood Town striker Jamie Vardy will be desperate to complete his remarkable journey from the Conference to the Premier League in just three short years. The Sheffield-born striker’s lightning pace and eye for a finish will certainly only propel his unfathomably meteoric rise through the divisions.
A ‘boring’ but prudent manager with super staff
Despite what Sean Dyche may have told you, Nigel Pearson has worked wonders to transform a team full of Sven’s high-earning flops in to a hungry side ready for the Premier League. Having spent next to nothing this season, Pearson’s desire to stick largely with the same side that fell agonisingly short the season prior has clearly paid off.
In truth, when Pearson and his head of recruitment Steve Walsh (no, not the City legend) do pull off a wonder signing, it is usually on the cheap for an unknown talent like the aforementioned Knockaert and Mahrez. In fact, expect any Summer City signings to impress – Steve Walsh was the man that recommended Chelsea legend Didier Drogba to Jose Mourinho.
The Foxes also boast a rigorous and meticulous work ethic among their backroom staff as documented on Late Kick Off. Pearson’s staff’s attention to detail as well as their genuine talent to manage the game with precision in all areas will be crucial if the Foxes are to stay up next year.
A desire to win
Make no mistake, Nigel Pearson does not implement a negative philosophy in to his sides playing style, no matter what the now thoroughly entertaining Hull City tell you *rolls eyes*. Actually, City’s current leader has the two highest win rates of any of Leicester’s permanent managers, both at over 50%.
Leicester managed to salvage a remarkable 21 points from losing positions during the last campaign. The Foxes also managed to pick up 47 points on the road including wins at promotion rivals Burnley, Derby County and Queens Park Rangers. In total, City managed to win thirty-one of their league games last season, drawing just nine.
The philosophy of playing to win against the sides around you, even away from home, is one that Pearson has expressed an unwillingness to change in the Premier League, so expect Leicester to play to their strengths at the likes of Selhurst Park and The Hawthorns next season.
Foreign owners who aren’t egomaniacs
Thankfully, Leicester seem to possess owners with their heads screwed on. Despite the initially wrong approach adopted in 2011, the Srivaddhanaprabhas have been a blessing for the club. Both Vichai, the chairman and his son, vice chairman Aiyawatt, have implemented the practices of patience and progress in their bid to restore Leicester’s lost stature.
In fact, just today in a press conference in Thailand, Vichai outlined his commitment to re-establishing Leicester in the Premier League by pledging to spend up to £180m in order for the club to reach Europe, not that the shrewd Nigel Pearson will spend anywhere near that amount. However, their aims have remained somewhat realistic albeit ambitious by acknowledging the need to consolidate for three seasons before Leicester launch a surge for intercontinental competition.
Since their arrival, the billionaires from Thailand have bought the stadium, introduced state of the art training and playing facilities and effectively written off £100m worth of debt. It’s safe to say, despite some incorrect portrayals, the club are in safe hands with Srivaddhanaprabhas. In fact, in an interview with a national newspaper Top (as Aiyawatt likes to be known) assured fans that he would not follow in the footsteps of Cardiff’s Vincent Tan or Hull’s Assem Allam, saying; “we respect our history and culture so we do the same here. We don’t want to change the history or the culture of the club…we appreciate history. We respect that this place didn’t belong to us before. We come from outside the country and we are here to make the team successful.”
I’m probably a little biased when I say that Leicester City will enhance the Premier League next season. A proud, well supported, traditional club with the funds and facilities to make a real go of things next season. Maybe it’s because of the reasons above or the fact that no side has ever gone down after winning promotion with 100+ points or maybe it’s just blind loyalty. But I just cannot see Leicester City relinquishing their coveted place in the top flight next season. I say this with the great risk of looking a total arse in twelve months time but Leicester City are in the Premier League and they are here to stay.