Leicester City, the Greatest Cinderella Story of all Time
As a Manchester United fan, it has been difficult watching my team overcome the hurdles and setbacks since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. With almost three years, two managers, and entire first team line up change, the Red Devils we once knew are now mere shadows of their strong and prevalent past. But as much as I can complain about the lack of fresh heels or the apathetic demeanor of Louis van Gaal and the entire United squad, the team, the spirit, and the Manchester name will continue to live on after this tumultuous season. Now, going beyond the negatives and flaws of the Red Devils, the true story coming out the 2015-2016 English Premier Leagues season is the Cinderella tale of Leicester City. But to truly understand this, we need to start from the beginning.
For many people, Leicester City was seen just as another tourist to the greatness that is the English Premier League. After finishing 18th in their 2003-2004 season, the Foxes were relegated to England’s second soccer division and continued to struggle to keep their form. This in turn pushed them further down the English soccer pyramid to the third league division. While many clubs usually falter and fall, Leicester battled back. For ten long years, Leicester demanded excellence. For ten long years, Leicester manufactured hope when there was no hope to be seen. For ten long years, Leicester pushed until they reach their goal. During the 2014-2015 English Premier League season, Leicester was able to reach their goal to play with the number one league in the world again. But with every great achievement comes great challenges.
During their first season back in the English Premier League, Leicester City’s work looked to be like an unraveling sweater. Their formation was sloppy and their execution was pathetic. While at times they felt like they were destined to fall back to the dark abyss of the second and third English soccer division, they continued to fight back for their spot in the English Premier League. Because of this confidence, the Foxes were able to pull the great escape and finish 14th in the league. While their spot was safe, they knew there had to be changes at hand. Since 2011, Nigel Pearson was the squad’s head manager. But for the Foxes to move forward, they knew they had to release him. It was at the end of the season when they decided to bring in the Italian football manager Claudio Ranieri. Having an illustrious career managing some of the best clubs in the world such as Cagliari, Napoli, Fiorentina, Valencia, Atletica Madrid, Chelsea, Parma, Juventus, Roma, Inter Milan, and Monaca, the fans and the board of Leicester City looked for someone to keep their incredible momentum alive. But no one would have expected what was to happen next.
During the start of the 2015-2016 season, something happened. Under new management of Claudio Ranieri with essentially the same team from the year prior, Leicester City was making a run of its life. For months, the team went unnoticed attaining three points each and every week. It wasn’t until a few months after where fans and critics began to question if Leicester City was the real deal. The fall of Manchester United and Chelsea were already a given because of their managerial situation. But the dominance and skill that outplayed Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool continued to enhance the overall profile of this underdog team. The quiet might was especially glorified with the beautiful play of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy. As the team continued to play, the leap and praise for success continued to follow.
Today, with just ten games left in the season, we as fans may be in the presence of history. No, it is not just the idea that Leicester City might win the Premier League. Instead, it is the fact that Leicester City is the true Cinderella story. This is a team who has seen failure and had to fight ten years just to get a shot at the title. This is a team that almost saw the end, but was able to muster the strength to fight for their place. And today, this is a team that could potentially be the next English Premier League Champions. Now if that is not a great Cinderella story, I don’t know what is. All I know is that while I may be loyal to the red flag of Old Trafford, I’ll be rooting for the Foxes to the end.