It has been 10 years since Leicester last played in the Premiership, during the 2003 / 2003 season. Since then, we’ve experienced relegation to League One (the old Third Division), promotion back to the Championship and last year’s “oh-so-near” heartache of being beaten by Watford in the play-off semi-finals.
But now, after 10 years away from what is dubbed the best league in the world, after experiencing various highs and even more lows, a selection of managers and even more players; it looks as though this year could finally be our year.
Despite missing out on promotion via the play-offs last year, it was clear from anyone within the King Power that Nigel Pearson had created a nucleus who this season could challenge for promotion; thanks in part due to a blend of experience – Nugent, Morgan and Konchesky; and youth – Moore, James, Knockaert, combined with grit, camaraderie, determination and passion.
As the season kicked-off, the Leicester faithful were understandably expectant about our title chances; however an opening day defeat away to Charlton suggested that the hangover of the play-offs could still be lingering.
However, any doubts were soon pushed to one side as we went on to claim victories against Birmingham, Derby and Middlesbrough, whilst grinding out a draw against Leeds, to end August with 10 out of a possible 15 points.
Since August we have continued in our goal of achieving promotion, by grinding out results and battling hard against some very good sides, whilst getting crucial goals when it matters most. Along the way (after 39 games), we have clocked up 26 wins, scoring 74 (league) goals and amassing 86 points; putting the Premiership only a fingertip away.
Intertwined with our impressive league form – which has seen us go on a 20 game unbeaten run, the best in the league, with the second best being Blackburn who have amassed a four game unbeaten run – we also managed a fairly successful cup run, beating Premiership team Fulham, before succumbing to the millions of Manchester City.
Whilst we may not have managed to claim victory against Manchester City, we didn’t receive the drubbing which many expected; instead we gave a good account of ourselves – perhaps showing early on that we were (almost) ready for the “big league”.
Off the pitch, our form has been equally impressive, with Pearson, Shakespeare and Walsh working wonders behind the scenes; from transforming out of form Jamie Vardy into the player who, alongside Nugent has spearheaded our attack, showing that he is more than worthy of wearing the Number 9 shirt.
The coaching staff have also worked shrewdly within the transfer market – despite what rival fans may suggest, our expenditure has been minimal, yet we have managed to bring in class, in the form of Kevin Phillips and Riyad Mahrez to name but two.
Now, with promotion all but clinched – and the Tina Turner and Status Quo CDs being dusted off – attention will be turning to next season.
It is no secret that Pearson and the backroom staff will already have lined up targets to add to the squad; but for the fans the important thing will be tying down Pearson and those players out of contract – including Schmeichel and Nugent to new contracts.
It’ll also be important for us to recruit a goalkeeper good enough to challenge Kasper; some full-backs to offer competition to De Laet, and take the left back role from the ageing Konchesky; along with shoring up competition for other places, such as on the wings.
But whatever happens between now and the start of next season, one thing is for sure, Leicester won’t be going to the Premiership just for a relegation scrap, we’ll be going to prove our doubters and critics wrong; whilst showing that we deserve to be there!
After all: Foxes Never Quit
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