Leicester City won the Premier League last season, you may have heard already. I think it would be fair to say, without any chance of overstatement, that this was a good thing for fans of the team.
It has changed things, however, and as any sane person with no issues whatsoever will tell you, change is terrible and to be feared.
Again, the majority of these changes are for the better. The extra money we’ve picked up meant we could break our transfer record and then do it again, and then nearly double the new record. These great new players were brought in to help out on the new adventure in Europe, which is going really really well.
In fact, the only negative at all that seems to have come from it is that we might be having somewhat of an identity crisis.
On the surface, there’s no dilemma at all. Just to listen to the fans, every single game: champions of England, we know who we are.
And certainly we are. I can prove it.
But really that’s what we are, and it does seem to clash with who we are, which deep down in our hearts (for many) is still “little old Leicester”. A yoyo club, coming off hard times and aiming to just stay up this time.
O.K. somehow we have a world-class player in Leicester, maybe we won’t get relegated – Christian Fuchs sums up the strange contradiction of being Leicester City
It’s fair to say this season’s results aren’t helping at all. Are we the strugglers we thought we were, down the league and just glad not to be back in the bottom three?
Or are we the dominant champions of England, winning the league by a 10 point margin and unbeaten in the Champions League, thanks to our impenetrable defence?
4 - Leicester City are the first team in #UCL history to keep a clean sheet in each of their first four games in the competition. Solid.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 2, 2016
At the moment, we might just be both.
What should our expectations be?
So what would be a good season for Leicester City? It’s pretty clear that we won’t be repeating our title and I think that was understood before the season began. But I’m sure some were expecting it.
From my experience, most seemed to think (or was it hope?) that the top six, and a repeat of European qualification, was a reasonable ask for a team that was, for the most part, the same. Unfortunately, that’s a much tougher task than it was before.
Manchester City have immediately taken to Guardiola’s style and look great. Tottenham Hotspur look just like the team that worried us almost all the way. Liverpool have come roaring back into the frame, Chelsea have jumped right back to where they were before last season, Manchester United are unpredictable but, as we know, dangerous, and Arsenal are…well, Arsenal.
I struggle to see a season from here where we finish above any of those clubs.
If I’m honest, right now I’d bite your hand off if offered 9th. Not the worst defending champions ever. It has a nice ring to it. In fact, I think that would be a fantastic season for Leicester City.
Remember that just one year ago, we wanted to stay up and that was about it. Any upgrade on the previous season’s 14th would have been a great step in the right direction, especially if it didn’t come by way of several months rooted to the bottom of the table.
Leicester could be the first team to win the Champions League and get relegated in the same season.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 6, 2016
And good old Gary adds further interest, as ever.
Of course, Leicester are unlikely to win the Champions League, or even reach the semi finals (although of course we’ve all seen worse odds come true…), but if they reach the quarter finals, would that be enough to make up for a 17th place finish?
Not for me, I don’t think. This team is better than that I’m sure.
And what of the players? If Jamie Vardy had scored 10 last year, it would have been a remarkable improvement, doubling his previous tally. Should we be disappointed if he doesn’t score 20 again?
2016 Ballon D'Or shortlist: @vardy7 ✅@Mahrez22 ✅— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 24, 2016
More here: https://t.co/wzM6MRCyeM #ballondor pic.twitter.com/oVEVSYspaD
Our defence, particularly the rocks of Huth and Morgan appear to have taken a step back, but let’s not forget that they conceded 55 in the great escape year. Only a woeful QPR along with Newcastle and Villa, who would both be relegated the next year, shipped more at the back.
Of course, I can’t answer any of these questions for any of you. What you expect and what you’d like to see are your own thoughts, and probably not even ones you control.
But if I was to offer advice it would be this: as far as expectations go, forget last year happened (disclaimer: DON’T EVER ACTUALLY FORGET LAST YEAR HAPPENED).
This year might look a lot like regression, compared to last year. But if you zoom out to something more like a five or ten year scale, last year is an aberration, and this year is a slight improvement on 2014/15 (we were 18th after 11 games). It’s all part of a slow, steady build that’s taken the club from its lowest ever point to its highest.
Things look pretty good actually, if you ignore last year. Just don’t ever ignore last year.