The rise of Leicester City to become unlikely Premier League champions in 2015-16 will forever remain a fairytale story for the ages.
The rise of Leicester City to become unlikely Premier League champions in 2015-16 will forever remain a fairytale story for the ages. Having escaped relegation the previous year, the betting odds for them winning the title were 5000-1. It’s not as if they had spent loads of money either. Indeed, having come up from the Championship in 2013-14, the primary goal for the side looked like it would be survival again. Yet Leicester City did it. Granted, they won the Premier League in a year where none of the traditional title contenders carried much of a threat. But that doesn’t lessen the magnitude of their win at all.
Never forget that Leicester really built a starting lineup with just £28.8M, and on this day 5 years ago somehow won a Premier League title with it!
Happy Leicester City Day everyone! ? pic.twitter.com/MnQ40mFcGF
— MadAboutFoxes (@madaboutfoxes) May 2, 2021
With five years having passed since the magical day, let us look back at Leicester’s unlikely rise.
The season didn’t begin in an ideal manner for Leicester. Manager Nigel Pearson was sacked ahead of the season and was replaced by Claudio Ranieri. Ranieri had previously managed Chelsea but his reputation had taken a hit thanks to a disastrous spell in charge of the Greece national team.
Yet results under him were solid. Leicester beat Sunderland to start with, before losing 5-2 to Arsenal thereafter. But a record run of goals for striker Jamie Vardy saw them rise back to the top of the league. They remained there until December 26, when they lost 1-0 to Liverpool.
They would return back to the top on January 16 after a 1-1 draw vs Aston Villa. From that point onwards, they never relenquished the top spot.
For such a fairytale rise, the way the title was decided was anti-climatic. Leicester could have sealed the title on May 1 with a win over Manchester United. Yet the match ended 1-1.
However, if Tottenham Hotspur – by then Leicester’s closest title rivals – dropped points against Chelsea the following day, then the title would make its way to the King Power Stadium.
Tottenham were leading 2-1 till the 83rd minute, when Eden Hazard scored the equaliser for Chelsea. The draw meant Spurs now trailed Leicester by 7 points with two games remaining. The impossible – nay, the improbably – had happened.
Leicester City did not become a permanent fixture of the Premier League elite immediately. Indeed, subsequent seasons saw them lose N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez – two key players in their title run.
They played the 2016-17 Champions League and had a respectable outing – they made it out of the group stages and into the quarterfinals. However, they haven’t made it back since.
A succession of poor managerial appointments kept the Foxes mired in the Premier League mid-table. But that changed when they appointed former Liverpool and Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers in February 2019.
They missed out on Champions League qualification by a whisker in 2019-20, settling for 5th place. However, they are currently third in the table and primed for a return to Europe’s elite next season.
Whether that is the start of another title-winning cycle, though, remains to be seen.