Posts Tagged ‘Leicester City’

Feature: Vardy brings Leicester spirit to England’s Euro quest

Looking beyond Euro 2016, Vardy will undergo an operation after the tournament to repair “two big cracks” in his right wrist, but says he will only be sidelined for three weeks. He is bringing out an autobiography, My Story, in October and revealed that a film charting his rags-to-riches tale is slated for release in 2017. “It’s happening,” he said. “It’s out in 2017, from what I’ve been told. I think they’re just getting all the actors sorted.” In response to a question about who will play him, as well as a cheeky entreaty about who might take on the role of Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, he would only say: “I’m not at liberty to say.”

Jamie Vardy sat down for a chat with journalists at England’s Euro 2016 media centre in Chantilly this week. Find out what he said here.

Analysis: Leicester change landscape as TV cash flood looms

While the feats of Jamie Vardy (£1 million), Riyad Mahrez (£400,000) and N’Golo Kanté (£5.6 million) demonstrated a new way of spending, Leicester’s football revealed a different way of winning. In an age when many teams continue to worship at the altar of tiki-taka, Claudio Ranieri’s well-drilled, hard-running side averaged 44.8 percent of possession — the third-lowest in the league — and had a pass completion rate of 70.5 percent — the league’s second-lowest. With Tottenham Hotspur, another high-intensity team, challenging for the title under the inspirational Mauricio Pochettino, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke was moved to exclaim: “The old order has broken.” The Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year told its own story, with Leicester and Tottenham contributing four players each. Excepting Harry Kane, the division’s 25-goal top scorer, who came through Tottenham’s youth system, all were signed for fees dwarfed by the £49 million that City spent on Raheem Sterling.

In my review of the Premier League season, I wrote about how Leicester City’s fairytale title triumph has moved the goalposts in English football. You can read it here.

Report: Morgan lifts trophy to complete Leicester fairytale

Analysis: Rag-tag Leicester turn tables on English elite

There was only one real wobble — a run of one win in five matches immediately after Christmas — and to date they have been beaten just three times. Even when, no longer misdiagnosed as over-achieving minnows, Leicester found opposing teams massing themselves behind the ball, they ground out five 1-0 wins in six games to move to within sight of the title. Leicester’s triumph also owes a debt to the perfect storm that saw defending champions Chelsea collapse, Manchester United toil and Manchester City and Arsenal fail to last the course. But for an unheralded team composed of players with almost zero title-winning know-how, their success in leading from the front represents an astonishing feat of fortitude and sporting courage.

My piece for AFP on how Leicester City pulled off one of the most extraordinary successes in the history of professional sport can be read here.

Related link: Joy as Hazard brings Leicester historic title
Related link: Rough-cut Vardy embodies Leicester’s rise
Related link: Opportunity and uncertainty await for champions Leicester

Feature: World’s press flock to cover Leicester fairytale

A sweep of the press room before Leicester City’s recent victory over Swansea City confirmed the extent to which their pursuit of Premier League glory has captivated global audiences. Journalists from as far afield as Finland, Turkey, South Korea and Australia mingled in the queue for a pre-match meal, while a 10-strong Japanese contingent sat around a table discussing how Shinji Okazaki would fare in the absence of his suspended strike partner Jamie Vardy. The team that narrowly avoided relegation last season are now just three points from the league title and their Cinderella story has won them admirers in the most unlikely locations. “Last season, no-one really wrote about Leicester in the US and no-one really talked about them,” says Joe Prince-Wright, the lead soccer writer for American broadcasting giant NBC. “This season it’s been incredible — people like [New England Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady and NFL players have been sending them messages. All of a sudden there’s this clamour to latch onto the underdog story.”

How the global media have gone giddy for the Foxes – read my AFP piece here.

Analysis: Raging Vardy leaves Leicester in a bind

The scrawny striker’s gritty back story, fiery temperament and hard-running playing style have turned him into something of an anti-hero for Leicester’s supporters, who have never seen their club win the title. “Jamie Vardy’s having a party, bring your vodka and your charlie!” is a regular chant at Leicester’s King Power Stadium. Meanwhile, an enigmatically aggressive Facebook post made by Vardy in October 2011 — “Chat shit get banged” — has become the go-to put-down among British youngsters on social media. But while Leicester’s fans revel in Vardy’s outlaw status, the West Ham incident suggested that the rough edges that once saw him convicted of assault during his non-league days have not been smoothed away.

Will Jamie Vardy’s angry dismissal against West Ham United cost Leicester City the title? My piece for AFP can be read here.

Profile: Leicester’s Mahrez thumbs nose at England’s elite

Hazard was the Premier League’s showboater-in-chief in 2014-15, but his crown has been stolen by Mahrez, whose 14 goals and 10 assists make him one of the favourites to succeed the Belgian as England’s Player of the Year. The two players were born a month apart in 1991 and both are quick, skilful forwards who learnt their trade in northern France – Hazard at Lille, Mahrez at Le Havre. But it is where their similarities end that the symbolism begins. Hazard, a £32 million ($46.3 million, 41.3 million euros) signing from Lille in 2012, has become the sleep-walking incarnation of Chelsea’s slump from champions to mid-ranking also-rans. Leicester have taken their place at the summit and in the impish Mahrez, a £400,000 bargain buy from Le Havre, they possess a figure who embodies the Premier League’s startling democratisation.

How Riyad Mahrez stole Eden Hazard’s crown as England’s great entertainer – my piece for AFP can be found here.

Related link: From factory floor to record books for Leicester’s Vardy
Related link: Pluck and pizza propel Leicester to summit

Review: Premier League titans roar in boardroom, squeak on pitch

Untold riches will rain down upon the English Premier League in 2016, but for all their resources, the country’s leading clubs currently seem incapable of staking claims to the title. The record £5.14 billion ($7.72 billion, 7.06 billion euros) television rights deal due to kick in next year will reinforce the English top flight’s status as European football’s financial behemoth. But champions Chelsea have imploded, Arsenal and Manchester City remain hit-and-miss and while Liverpool find their feet under Jürgen Klopp, Manchester United appear to be stagnating under Louis van Gaal. It has fallen to Leicester City to make the early running in what former United captain Gary Neville has described as “the most bizarre league that I have seen in a long time”.

My review of the year 2015 in English football can be read here.

Related link: New money rises in England as old powers slip

Analysis: Pluck and pizza propel Leicester to summit

Ranieri was derisively labelled ‘The Tinkerman’ during his four years at Chelsea, due to his habit of rotating his team, and his appointment by Leicester in July following Nigel Pearson’s sacking unleashed a tide of mockery. Former England striker Gary Lineker, probably Leicester’s most well-known alumnus, summed up the disdain when he tweeted: “Claudio Ranieri? Really?” “I had mixed thoughts, to be honest,” former Leicester captain Steve Walsh told AFP. “But he’s ‘tinkered about’ and added some good tactical things, so it’s worked out really well.” The genial Italian, 64, has been converting cynics to admirers with each victory, all the while maintaining the irreverent tone that made him a popular figure during his first spell in England between 2000 and 2004.

I’ve written a piece on the improbable rise of Leicester City – you can read it here.

Profile: From factory floor to record books for Leicester’s Vardy

“He was always first for training and last out,” recalls Stocksbridge chairman Allen Bethel. “He was also the life and soul of the party, a Jack the lad.” Vardy’s roguish streak occasionally caused him problems — he was sent off four times in his last season at Stocksbridge, deterring suitors Sheffield United — and he had trouble controlling his temper off the pitch. A conviction for a late-night assault temporarily obliged him to wear an electronic tag and observe an 18:30 p.m. curfew, which would see him substituted midway through games so that he could get home in time. Remembering one such mid-match dash, former Stocksbridge manager Gary Morrow said: “He jumped straight over the railings and into his parents’ car without even getting changed.”

A piece on the rise and rise of Jamie Vardy.

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