Opinion

Cinderella story rocks sport

by
April 30, 2016

FILE - In this Sunday, April 17, 2016 file photo Leicester City's Leonardo Ulloa celebrates with teammates Leicester City's Danny Drinkwater after scoring a last minute penalty during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and West Ham United at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England. Bought from second-division team Brighton in 2014, Ulloa goal tally of 13 helped Leicester retain its Premier League status last season. His role has been reduced with the arrival of Okazaki this time around, but his decisive strike in the 1-0 win against Norwich in February could prove crucial to securing the title. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File)

Let’s talk about one of the greatest team sporting stories in history.

It hasn’t happened yet but I think it’s safe to say it will happen within a couple of weeks when Leicester City wrap up the English Premier League EPL title.

They need only one win in the next three games to be crowned champions and the nearest contender Tottenham Hotspur have to win all three of their games and hope for Leicester to lose or draw almost all of their games.

The magnitude of their achievement is unthinkable; everything was against them succeeding. At the start of the season the odds of them winning was 5000 to 1.

No one in the world would have said at the start of the season Leicester will win the league, it’s almost like saying at the start of the 2016 AFL season, Essendon will win the flag. The gap between the lesser clubs in the EPL and the top four Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City is astronomical.

Chelsea has a wage budget of £215.6million ($411million) almost four-and-half times Leicester’s modest £48.2million ($81million), and that’s just wages.

When it comes to transfers Manchester City’s David Silva is their eighth most expensive player and cost the club £24million. In comparison, Leicester City’s first team squad was assembled for £21million.

Leicester’s talented forward pairing of Jamie Vardy (£1million) and Riyad Mahrez (£400000) have been incredibly valuable, scoring 39 goals between them.

In the previous season Leicester escaped relegation thanks to seven wins in nine games at the end of the season and amazingly that form has not stopped.

The team has rode their luck no doubt, but under the astute management of Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, the team of players that other top clubs would consider rejects or has-been-veterans, has become the best in the EPL.

Ranieri has never won a first division league title and I don’t think even he knew what Leicester were capable of after signing on as their manager for this season.

This fairytale story, while rare, is why the EPL is one of the most watched sporting leagues in the world, any team can have their day, but no one told Leicester to make it one day not an entire 38-round season.

As a Tottenham Hotspur fan I was hoping they might collapse earlier in the piece as many pundits suggested and then Spurs could march on but there is no way I can begrudge the David vs Goliath story, it’s just too good.

It’s really turned the league upside down, powerhouse sides have been embarrassed and their fans are whining because their established EPL clubs were trumped by these upstarts who dared to dream.

I think it’s a little unfair for people (mostly salty fans of the ‘‘big clubs’’) to suggest that Leicester can’t compete next year in the European Champions League.

Let’s just wait and see how they go, it’s not like English clubs have been dominating the competition of late.

It’s almost fitting that Leicester get the chance to lift the trophy, tomorrow, if they defeat the most successful EPL era team, Manchester United, at their home dubbed ‘‘The Theatre of Dreams,’’ no less.

If I’ve jumped the gun in writing this column, it’s okay because there’s only one team who can chase Leicester down now, and that’s Spurs so I’ll be cheering my masterstroke of a commentator’s curse.

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