Leicester City FC: what the media were saying pre-season

With the Foxes going into the last five games of the season as the bookies favourites for the Premier League, we look back at what us in the media were saying before it started
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Leicester City FC: what the media were saying pre-season

Ahead of this week’s fixtures in the English Premier League we wanted to reflect on the story that has everyone interested in football, or fairytales, even more enthralled. Leicester City have gone from perceived cannon-fodder after their fight to survive last season, after spending much of 2014/15 propping up the table, to clear favourites to land the title. Most of those that did put money on them doing the commonly accepted impossible haven’t even believed it strongly enough themselves and have cashed out at various points throughout the it’s-got-to-come-to-an-end-soon run. The truth is, we are all fools.

Everyone who doubted me is a loser, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri did not say.

Last summer, just before the season kicked off on 7 August, we in the media (yes, of course we include ourselves in this) were talking up the title chances of holders Chelsea, who started their campaign with serial-winner Mourinho at the helm and a wealth of expensive talent that in many’s eyes had taken their foot off the gas long before they claimed their crown. Their early impressive surge in the 2014/15 season had given them a cushion which they duly used in a leisurely wind-down to the summer break. Manchester City were the closest challenges to Chelsea and had outscored them in the previous campaign so were many people’s favourites to battle it out with the Blues for the title. Arsenal and Manchester United (with Louis Van Gaal having had time to bed in his players and spending a lot on players) were the only other teams making any real noise with pundits about having a chance and only whispers could be heard about Liverpool or Tottenham upsetting the odds.

So, back to Leicester. We are all now sitting in a place of disbelief, joy, and feeling somehow cleansed that the minnows really do have a chance in the beautiful game turned ugly business. And we look at players such as Vardy, Mahrez, Drinkwater, Kante et al and appreciate their talents – as well as “Tinkerman” himself, Claudio Ranieri - which have got them on the brink of a Hollywood script that would never have been written had it not been true. But did we see, appreciate, have any damn clue just eight months ago? No! Here are a selected few opinions on what we were all actually thinking:

"Lineker no likey; unproven; sorry spending" were some of the reasons given for why Claudio Ranieri being a bad choice to lead the Foxes

Ray Parlour: “Neil Lennon would be more suited” (speaking to the Telegraph)

Transfer window crisis! Why does no one want to sign for Leicester City?

"On paper one of the weakest teams in the entire division"

Premier League Predictions

Guardian's football writers': 9 out of 11 had the Foxes relegated

BBC: Leicester 19th - "Ranieri's appointment is, at best, left field and at worst uninspiring and unwise."

Telegraph: 5 out of 10 said Leicester to be relegated (only 50%!)

Forbes: Leicester 18th

ESPN: Leicester 20th - "Leicester will regret sacking Nigel Pearson"

When you feel like kicking yourself

It’s one thing to have made a wrong prediction and look a little silly. But completely another thing if you could have been part of this incredible story yet turned that chance down.

Worst decision ever?

And Cambiasso wasn't the only one to turn down the chance to be a Champions League Fox. As we have seen Charles Aranguiz did the same prefering the "bigger club" Bayer Leverkusen,

Is the football landscape changing?

So, what can we learn from this, if anything? Wouldn’t it be great if we looked at this scenario and didn’t just treat it like a one-off, crazy occurrence? An FA Cup tie “giant killing” can be described as such but a 38-game season with equal games home and away? Not really. Instead let’s hope that this is a reminder to managers, chairmen and fans that buying the perceived “finished article” for mega-bucks is not necessarily the answer.

Maybe more needs to be done to spot great talent in the less obvious places, not only in an individual a la Mahrez but pieces that compliment each other when on the field and off it for months on end. I hope that questions are being asked up and down the land about why a 30 million pound player hasn’t performed in the way that [insert your Leicester player here] has and that when a team announces that they’ve just signed a little Algerian winger from the French second division that more patience is given. Maybe that’s a little too unbelievable…