Fourteen games into the 2015/16 season and the major schock of the season, on par with Chelsea currently sitting in 14th place in the Barclays Premier League, is the fact that Leicester are top of the Premier League table.
Compared to a year ago, under the management of Nigel Pearson, Leicester have made an 18 place improvement on their position in the table . It is important not to forget that Pearson lead Leicester to a really remarkable ‘great escape’ from the bottom 3 to finish 14th, Pearson and the club parted ways on the 30th June 2015. Following this, on the 13th July Leicester City FC signed manager Claudio Raineri as their first team manager.
Ranieri’s Summer Dealings
It seems only sensible to begin with who Leicester City acquired during the summer transfer window. They managed to sign Premier League veteran Robert Huth from Stoke and Nathan Dyer from Swansea, along with Japanese striker Shinji Okazaki from Mainz and Gokhan Inler from Napoli. However, it is Ryiad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy who are not only dominating the Leicester City headlines this season, but also having their names spread across the world.
On the 28th November, English striker Jamie Vardy passed Manchester United legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy to score 11 goals in 11 consecutive games. This feat was not easily achieved by Vardy who has been assisted by Ryiad Mahrez many times this season. Mahrez boasts 6 assists and 10 goals in 14 appearances this season with Vardy holding an incredible 14 goals in 15 games this season with 1 assist.
The former non-league Vardy, who only four seasons ago was at modest Fleetwood Town FC, has managed to stun the world with his haul and evidently this has lead to great speculation as to why here may go in the January or summer transfer windows of 2016, if he decides to leave Leicester City FC. Personally, I believe that currently, and if Vardy is able to hold keep his momentum and keep scoring consistently he is incredibly valuable to Leicester, who would be foolish to sell their star in January.
Vardy and Lambert, true underdog stories
However, Jamie is not alone in his underdog story. Former Southampton, Liverpool and Bristol Rovers striker Rickie Lambert holds one similar. Although Lambert was not as successful in any of his Premier League seasons as Vardy has been so far, Rickie Lambert has scored in all four Premier League divisions. Lambert joined Southampton from former League 2 side Bristol Rovers, in 2009 after Southampton were relegated to the third tier. Lambert then helped Southampton win their way back to the Premier League and in his first season in the top flight, Lambert managed to finish 7th in the goal scorers chart, joint with Premier League veterans Dimitar Berbatov and Frank Lampard.
Lambert was called up for England on the 8th August 2013 and scored with his first touch, on his debut against Scotland, a mere 2 minutes after coming onto the pitch as a substitute for Wayne Rooney. Lambert 31 at the time of his international debut and was 32 at the time of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which was unsuccessful for England, to say the least.
With Jamie Vardy already at the age of 28, it is a shame that both Vardy and Lambert were found in the lower leagues rather late in their careers and it does lead one to wonder, how many other football diamonds are waiting to be unearthed in the lower tiers of football.
When analysing football however, the key word is consistency. For example Graziano Pelle of Southampton managed 12 Premier League goals last season, yet struggled to find the net even once until April after then January transfer window. Pelle lasted a run of 15 goalless games last season while in the first half of the season, by the 29th October he had 9 goals in 12 games for Southampton.
What is the secret to the success for Leicester? Quite obviously it is partly due to the astounding form of Jamie Vardy, along with Riyad Mahrez and this is not to diminish the efforts of the entire team who have each contributed assists and goals of their own this campaign. Leicester have capitalised on the teams they can win against and have been clinical enough. Vardy has an average of 3.7 shots per game, which proves how deadly the English forward is.
The success of Leicester City FC this season is an astounding one, and the story of Jamie Vardy a fairytale. Only time will tell as to whether Vardy will continue his explosive form or tire out in the latter half of this season. The only true certainty is that the toughest half of the season is on its way and it will be interesting to see whether Ranieri will look to made additions to his squad in January.