It is proving to be a fairy tale finish for last year’s almost-relegated Leicester City in the English Premier League (EPL).
Even a 1-1 draw against Manchester United last evening couldn’t dim the jubilation in their joyous fans.
And it’s not just their die-hard fans who are celebrating.
The mid-level club has made fans all over the world with their glorious run to the title this season in an unlikely topsy-turvy EPL season.
Defending champions Chelsea are nowhere in the top four and will not qualify for next year’s Champions League.
They still lurk as potential spoilers for both title aspirants. Tottenham Hotspurs play them this evening and Chelsea encounter Leicester in their final game next week.
Should the Spurs drop any points to Chelsea, Leicester will be home and dry with two games in hand.
Should Chelsea lose, a win against Everton at home should suffice for the Foxes.
Either way, it’s looking very rosy for Claudio Ranieri’s men and the Italian manager will be looking forward to a two million pound bonus in his burgeoning kitty.
A couple of years ago, it was Atletico Madrid who made believers of sceptics knocking out Barcelona and Real Madrid on its way to its first La Liga title since 1996.
Atletico are in the running this year as well— a three-way race including Barcelona and Real Madrid.
It is always gratifying to see the small guy win and as this writer put it in his mid-season piece, “It’s not about whether you play as well as you can, it’s about simply doing better than the rest.”
That happens to be the story of this year’s EPL. None of the former champion sides could lift their standards high enough to take the fight to giant-slayers Leicester.
Leicester are deserving victors unless there’s an unlikely, nasty twist in the tale.
Former doubters disbelieve no more.
Claudio Ranieri is a smart man.
He must be.
He’s a crowd-pleaser.
And he knows how to grab the headlines.
The Italian manager of the English Premier League leader Leicester City had journalists in a tizzy with his statement comparing his giant-killing squad to a lovable, fictional movie character, Forrest Gump.
His team is Gumpish and intends to ‘Run, Run, Run’ all the way to the title.
“Look, I am very confident because if Leicester last season saved themselves in the last two months that means the stamina is fantastic. Why can’t we continue to run, run, run? We are like Forrest Gump. Leicester is Forrest Gump. I give you the headline there.”
For a team that was almost relegated last season, this year’s tilt at the championship has been nothing short of a fairy-tale.
Everyone loves an underdog especially when it seems too good to be true. We’re all suckers for a good story.
I don’t watch the English Premier League anymore. I used to a long time ago but not anymore.
But I still follow the championships through news reports.
This year has been fascinating reading.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City have been models of inconsistency.
While a side that was not given a ghost of a chance has continued to mock the pundits and poke a hole in any theories propounded by soccer fans.
The Christmas break is that time of the EPL season when it becomes evident whether the leaders are going to stand their scorching pace or fall by the wayside. The change in inclement weather seems to mark a change in fortunes of sides. Some teams are just better suited to take on their opponents in the wintry months.
Can Leicester City be the Christmas miracle fans need?
We shall soon know when they take on Liverpool and Manchester City in the space of days.
James Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were relative unknowns until four months ago, Hell, I never heard of them until Leicester started winning.
Now, they’re household names all across the globe.
Claudio Ranieri insists that he can make Leicester ‘Maximum City’.
Leicester have never won the EPL title. Ever.
The fairy-tale seems unlikely to go on.
Vardy and Mahrez have not been rested this season.
Their replacements Leonardo Ulloa and Nathan Dyer may just not have the same impact.
But with other sides such as Chelsea, Manchester City and United struggling to get their act together, it may just be possible for Leicester to run along.
Sometimes, it’s not necessary to be your best. Just better than the rest.