Leicester City’s quick and remarkable rise from a Championship club to the top of the Premier League has saved the integrity of the Premier League and English football as a whole.
Regardless of where they ultimately finish this season, Leicester’s triumphant campaign has rattled the commonly held belief of what it means to be a successful Premier League squad.
As more money poured into the Premier League at the beginning of this millennium, an oligarchy of clubs began to establish control over the division.
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Although not as predictable as their Spanish counterpart, the Premier League had developed a strict hierarchy of clubs. Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea, for example, often competed amongst themselves for the title while comfortably maintaining a top four position year after year.
It seemed as if the only way a club could break into this pantheon was through a massive infusion of funds as Manchester City did a few years ago.
Yet, Leicester has proven that clubs no longer need the historical prestige nor the money to climb the ladder.
For example, Leicester’s recent 3-1 victory over Manchester City highlighted their unorthodox rise to the top. According to the Daily Mail, Manchester City spent roughly £300 million to assemble their squad of superstars including Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero while Leicester spent just £21 million on their starting XI of relative unknowns. On paper, the two teams shouldn’t have been on the same pitch. But football isn’t played on paper.
Over the last decade or so, a pattern emerged in English football. As the financial gap grew, the ability of newly promoted lower division sides to avoid relegation seemed to decrease.
There seemed to be little hope for a lower division side to ever reach the dizzying heights of glitz and glamour enjoyed by Manchester United, for example.
Yet Leicester and their rising stars of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have restored faith in the upward mobility philosophy which formed the foundation for the promotion and relegation system. By doing so, they have added a jolt of excitement that has lifted the Premier League.
While it remains to be seen as to whether or not Leicester can do the unthinkable and beat their preseason 5000/1 odds of becoming Premier League champions, it seems as if they are certain to at least finish in the top four.
That accomplishment alone has shaken the notion that the big boys of the league are shoo-ins at the top. Leicester’s incredible rise should concern the oligarchy of the Premier League. If three years is all it takes to lift a small Midlands club to the top of the Premier League, one must begin to wonder, who else can challenge the top?
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