Blind passion can be Leicester City’s best tactic

By on September 15, 2015

The Maillot Jaune is the holy grail of cycling. To wear it in the Tour de France is the pinnacle of a cyclists’ career and outside of an exclusive group of overall contenders, there are only a lucky few who ever bear it upon their shoulders. Those lucky few are opportunists and sprinters who often join breakaways to win an early stage before the overall rankings have time to sort itself out in the mountain stages. Who wins the shirt on the first day of racing is almost never the winner of Le Tour and not since 2002 has that feat been achieved. Yet that year an individual time trail kicked off the race and the winner was Lance Armstrong.

Often times, the overall winner doesn’t emerge until the very end. Though Chris Froome was a favorite going into the race this last summer, it took him fully ten days to claim the Yellow Jersey and ride it into Paris. Cadel Evans won the tour in 2011 but has only worn yellow for eight days in his career.

Over the course of a race, only the leader at the end determines the outcome, but being the leader at the beginning can affect the person. And so is the case with Leicester City in the Premier League title race. Five games into the new season, the Midlands club sit second in the league behind only title favorites Manchester City.

For one of the oldest clubs in the Premier League, it’s a return to their former glories of the sixties and before that, the twenties. But those glory days were put long behind Leicester when the club was relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in its history in 2008, having gone through four managers the year before.

This triumphant return to the top of English football is partial vindication for those lost years.

A comeback 3-2 win against Aston Villa at the weekend encapsulated Leicester’s confidence. Down 2-0 thirty-nine minutes in, it looked as if Leicester’s undefeated start to the season would leave City as the only undefeated team in the league. Yet Leicester banded together and Riyad Mahrez inspired three second-half goals in quick succession, scored by Richie De Laet, Jamie Vardy and Nathan Dyer.

In a way, though, Leicester’s comeback was just delaying the inevitable. Over the next few months, The Foxes will likely fall back down to the table as their run of form dissipates — it’s more a question of when, not if. Although Claudio Ranieri’s men put in a solid performance to draw Tottenham Hotspur before the recent international break, they drew relegation battling Bournemouth the next and have mainly picked their eleven points so far off of smaller clubs. At times their character has been palpable, as in the second half against Villa at times it hasn’t — see their first half verses Villa.

However, history tells us that Leicester need to be cautious. Last season, Villa themselves were at the top end of the table after five games, yet then went on a run of nine winless matches and found themselves right back into a relegation scrap. The year before, the honor was bestowed upon a relatively fresh-faced Southampton. That year, the Saints had a run of nine games with just one win, having lost just one in their opening eleven fixtures of the season.

Football is a huge game of momentum and eventually, that tides will force Leicester back down the table, whether that be in the next few weeks or months. But Leicester cannot afford to look so far in the future. They’ve got to tune out anything else to avoid falling into a trap game. It is blind passion, yes, but better than the alternative of waiting for their eventual loss.  If they look below them, Leicester will lose their belief.  The next match always has to be the most important.

Their early run of form in an injection of belief and hope. Leicester will probably end up in the relegation battle anyway, but as Ranieri noted following their win over Villa: “Now there are just 29 points to our goal. It’s important to achieve that as soon as possible.”  Leicester’s waves will eventually subside but if they can keep going for long enough then a ripple effect might just be able to secure them safety at the end of the season. They just can’t think about it that way or risk losing their mindset.

Homepage photo credit: Ben Sutherland, via Flickr

About Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan, founder of Football Every Day, lives and breaths football from the West Coast of the United States in California. Aside from founding Football Every Day in January of 2013, Alex has also launched his own journalism career and hopes to help others do the same with FBED. He covers the San Jose Earthquakes as a beat reporter for QuakesTalk.com and his work has also been featured in the BBC's Match of the Day Magazine.
  • Steve

    I don’t think you’re giving us much credit here. We’ve now lost only once in 15 games, that being against Chelsea. We have won 11, drawn three and lost one. We’re in the position we’re in because we’re a very good team that doesn’t know how to lose at the moment.

    Last season we came back twice against West Brom away to win, one down against Spurs and Bournemouth and drew and came back from two down against Villa. We will eventually lose a game but it won’t be easy for anyone to beat us.

    We haven’t even played that well yet this season and there is a lot more to come. You probably didn’t realise that Leicester have scored more goals than Chelsea this year? Only Man City have scored more!

    We won’t go nine games without a win and I don’t see us losing too many either. This squad has a huge amount of belief and talent and a frightening amount of pace. We’re the fastest and fittest team in the league and our spirit is like something very rarely witnessed at a football club. It’s an extremely rare quality to have and its what we’re all about.

    To suggest Leicester will slip into the relegation places is a massive injustice because we are a lot lot better than that! Our aim might appear as safety but I can assure you the owners want European football and Ranieri is the man to achieve that. Just look at his record!