Tag Archives: distance

Can Leicester go the distance?

There has already been talk of a film about Jamie Vardy’s life, but Leicester City’s season is also shaping up to be a story suitable for the silver screen.

The in-kind Foxes have gone from relegation favourites to title contenders in a matter of months, but can their fairytale commence to the 2015-16 campaign really have a Hollywood ending?

History suggests not – the last time a correct outsider went the distance in a title race was in the Premier League’s first season, 1992-93. Norwich City led for longer than anybody else and topped the table as late as April, but finished third.

So, can Claudio Ranieri’s side copy the Canaries, or even out-do them?

Chris Sutton, a teenage centre-half turned striker in that Norwich group, tells BBC Sport how it feels to be unlikely leaders, what Leicester need to have to do subsequent – and what could go incorrect.

Best in December – ‘We did not take it seriously’

Norwich manager Mike Walker and strike duo Chris Sutton and Mark Robins

Norwich manager Mike Walker played a fresh-faced Chris Sutton up front alongside Mark Robins, who scored 14 league ambitions in 1992-93 soon after joining from Manchester United

Leicester can go back to the best of the table if they beat defending champions Chelsea on Monday. No team top following 16 games has finished decrease than fourth in the Premier League. In 18 of the past 23 seasons, the team top at that stage completed second or greater, and on 13 occasions they ended up champions.

Sutton: “We had been eight points clear at the commence of December, but we have been absolutely not thinking about winning the title.

“There was talk of it outside the club but, amongst the players, we did not take it too seriously. Hunting back, that helped a lot.

“All the rhetoric coming out of Leicester in the last handful of weeks is the very same. Whether or not it is the manager or their players, when they are asked queries about the title, they just answer by talking about receiving sufficient points to stay up.

“We were the very same. We had finished 18th the previous season and stayed up by 3 points, so when we got to 30 points in November we just thought, ‘great, we are not going down’.”

Best of the Premier League on 11 December 1992

P W D L PTS

1. Norwich

18

12

three

3

39

2. Blackburn

18

8

7

3

31

three. Aston Villa

18

eight

7

three

31

No pressure – ‘It didn’t matter when we lost’

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy

Norwich had Robins scoring their goals – Leicester have Jamie Vardy, who has 14 league targets currently

Norwich lost 7-1 to Blackburn and four-1 to Liverpool in October 1992 but suffered only 1 other defeat in their very first 18 league matches. Leicester’s only league defeat so far is a five-two house defeat by Arsenal on three October. They responded by winning six of their subsequent eight games.

Sutton: “Like Leicester, we had been an attacking group with a purpose threat that was complete of self-confidence right after creating a tremendous start.

“One more similarity was that we did not give up – we came back from 2- down to beat Arsenal 4-two in our opening game and usually had that belief.

“We went from game to game without having worrying about anything, and it looks like they are doing the identical.

“Each and every group has a blip but even when we lost heavily or had a run of games more than Christmas where our final results dropped off, it did not really influence us simply because nobody expected us to be up there anyway.

“There was no stress – in the initial half of the season it was a single of these times exactly where we did not believe about our predicament really considerably.”

Nonetheless prime in April – ‘We started thinking ‘what if?”

Man Utd's Eric Cantona and Norwich's Chris Sutton challenge for the ball in April 1993

Sutton’s Norwich took on Manchester United in April 1993. “If we had won that game then we would have gone on to win the league,” Sutton says now

Norwich led the league for 129 days out of 270 in 1992-93, compared to Manchester United’s 69 days and Aston Villa’s 32. The Canaries have been last prime on 3 April – if they had beaten United on five April, they would have returned to the summit and gone five points clear of the eventual champions, and a point above Villa.

Sutton: “The longer you keep up there, and the closer you get to seeing it via, the tougher it gets.

“We got via March and we had been back on the leading of the table and it hit us. All of a sudden we started thinking about whether or not we could really do it.

Prime of the Premier League table on three April 1993 – ahead of Norwich v Man Utd

P W D L PTS

1. Norwich

36

19

8

9

65

2. Aston Villa

35

18

ten

7

64

3. Man Utd

35

17

12

six

63

“Everywhere you went in Norwich, men and women would ask, ‘can we win it?’ We were considering, ‘how are we nevertheless in the race?’. We also started to wonder, ‘what if we do win it?’

“It was a sort of pressure that was new to all of us, the manager Mike Walker and the players, and we faltered at the massive moments.

“We had two crunch games prior to Easter against the two other teams difficult and, though we beat Aston Villa, we lost at house to Manchester United, who had just gone 4 games without having a win.

Best of the Premier League table on 5 April 1993 – following Norwich v Man Utd

P W D L PTS

1. Aston Villa

36

19

ten

7

67

2. Man Utd

36

18

12

six

66

3. Norwich

37

19

eight

10

65

“I look back and genuinely think that if we had won that game then we would have gone on to win the league since that would have fully knocked the stuffing out of United at a crucial time.

“Rather we have been the ones who have been left deflated, and we only won two of our final 5 games.”

1992-93 Premier League table – final standings

P W D L PTS

1. Man Utd

42

24

12

six

84

2. Aston Villa

42

21

11

10

74

three. Norwich

42

21

9

12

72

What were Norwich missing? ‘A title mentality’

Leicester duo Kasper Schmeichel and Robert Huth

Robert Huth won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006 but only started a total of 13 games

Former Chelsea defender Robert Huth is the only member of the Leicester squad to have won a leading-flight title in any of the massive 5 leagues in Europe (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain). Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri has also never ever won a prime-flight title in his 29-year managerial career, even though he has had best-four finishes with 4 distinct clubs in Italy and was a runner-up with Chelsea in 2004 and Monaco in 2014.

Sutton: “Norwich came up a small bit quick but at the time we never ever truly talked about it in terms of how we almost won the title, mostly because we could not think what had just occurred.

Norwich City's team 1992-93

Seven Englishmen, three Welshmen and a Scot – a standard Norwich group from the 1992-93 season

“When I won the title with Blackburn in 1995, there was a completely diverse mentality around the club all through the whole season.

“I had arrived in the summer time of 1994 at a group that had just finished runners-up and finishing initial was the target from day one – there was far far more expectation, and pressure.

“But there was also a lot more encounter of how to handle it, from the players who had completed second the season just before to the manager, Kenny Dalglish, who had won titles with Liverpool.

“We had some big characters in the dressing space like Alan Shearer and Tim Flowers, and the sort of steely resolve you want. Even then, we practically threw the title away.”

Can Leicester do it? ‘They will never ever get a much better chance’

Leicester v Chelsea: Focus Forum previews Monday’s game

In the 11 seasons ahead of the Premier League started in 1992, 13 different teams completed in the prime 3 of England’s best flight. In the very first 11 seasons of the Premier League, 10 clubs did. Given that 2003, only 5 teams have managed best-three finishes: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Sutton: “Norwich have been a selling club who have been never ever going to chuck massive funds at a mid-season signing to try to win the title.

“But Leicester could be diverse. With the funds there is in the Premier League at the moment, why not splash out in the January transfer window like Sir Alex Ferguson suggested  this week? It would be very interesting if they did.

“They have given themselves a wonderful platform and these possibilities don’t come about extremely typically.

“They never require seven or eight players, just 1 or two in case Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez get injured. The wheels could nonetheless come off horribly, but why not have a go?

“It is early days and I still expect 1 of the big clubs to put a run together and come out of the pack to win the title, but even if Leicester do not win the league, a best-four finish now appears a realistic aim for them.

“That would nevertheless be an outstanding feat and making the Champions League could be the next chapter for them, the identical way qualifying for the Uefa Cup was for Norwich with our well-known win more than Bayern Munich the following season.”