From Champions to the Championship - Leicester City

Published on 19 June 2023 at 20:00

FA Cup winners, Champions League Quarter Finalists, FA Community Shield winners and of course, one time Premier League Champions; Leicester City have experienced an extraordinary decade.


But all it takes is a few bad decisions for that all to slip away into a memory. This is the story of how Leicester City’s Premier League dream went from fairytale to nightmare.


The Beginning


Our story begins in the summer of 2014. The World Cup was over, Gareth Bale was still the most expensive footballer of all time at £86 million and Manchester City had just two Premier League titles to their name, and at this time, down in the midlands, a legendary story was about to be written.

The Foxes began the season reasonably well but a run of 11 consecutive defeats between October 18th and December 28th saw the Midland's outfit plummet down the league table to sit 20th at the turn of the year (a position the club would remain at for an astonishing 140 days).


However, this is where things begin to take a turn for the spectacular. Leicester City's 2014/15 season will forever be synonymous with the greatest escape in Premier League history. After propping up the table for over 4 months, Nigel Pearson's side would go on a run of eight wins from their final nine fixtures to complete a remarkable comeback.


Leicester City had pulled off an escape the Anglin brothers would be proud of, and when the whistle blew at the Stadium of Light on May 16th, 2015, the whole of Leicestershire went into rapture. But it was just the beginning of the party.


The Year of Eternal Glory


2015/16. A year of sport immortalised for one, single event. A year where odds were defied and heroes were made. A year where Leicester City stormed to the most unlikely of Premier League titles. 


Smart finds such as Riyad Mahrez, N'golo Kante and Jamie Vardy (signed for roughly £9 million collectively according to transfermarkt) spearheaded the side to arguably the biggest shock in sporting history with all three being named in the PFA team of the year. 


The Foxes had struck gold, years of clever talent ID and a harmonious atmosphere fostered by a man who had long been ridiculed had created an outcome one could only dream of. The pinnacle had been reached, Leicester were in dreamland.


Rallying Under a New Banner


Following their remarkable achievement, Leicester City spent three seasons comfortable in mid-table mediocrity. However, under the tutelage of former Liverpool and Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, the Foxes returned to competitiveness.


Leicester would go on to spend the majority of the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons in the Champions League spots, hunting for those nights they so avidly enjoyed years ago, and all this despite losing player after player to traditionally bigger clubs. First it was Kante in 2016, then Mahrez two years later, then followed Harry Maguire in the summer of 2019 before Ben Chillwell joined Chelsea the following year.


The Foxes had modelled themselves on smart pickups to replace their high profile stars with the likes of James Justin and James Maddison being instant hits in the midlands.


However, collapses in the back end of consecutive seasons (specifically losing out on the final day to former favourite Ben Chillwell and his new Chelsea side in 2020/21) cemented Leicester's status as nearly men, always the bridesmaids and never bride. They just couldn't get over the line.


Following this second disappointment, club legends Wes Morgan and Robert Fuchs left the club (with the former retiring a hero). This left just four players from the infamous title winning squad to carry that winning mentality and experience. The golden years were slipping into memory.


The Decline


Following the two years as bridesmaids, the Foxes then took a step back further to wedding guests, finishing eighth and a significant 14 points worse off than the previous season. But, whilst this doesn't look so bad, it was the beginning of the end for Leicester City's Premier League journey.

Following his 11th year with the Foxes, legendary goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel left the club to join OGC Nice. Add to that the sale of star centre-back Wesley Fofana to Chelsea for around £80m and suddenly Leicester's defence had been significantly weakened. It was here that the foundations began to melt away.


Leicester's trademark smart recruitment began to wane with the likes of Boubakary Soumaré, Patson Daka and Jannik Vestegaard all failing to have the impact they were intended to the previous season. Then Wout Faes was signed to replace the outgoing Fofana whilst no replacement goalkeeper was brought in leaving perennial number two Danny Ward between the sticks for a Premier League side with European aspirations. Long story short it was never going to go well.


However, the season went from bad, to worse, to downright tragic with the Foxes picking up just nine wins all season and conceding an unimpressive 68 goals. On top of this, Jamie Vardy's form completely fell off a cliff with the Sheffield-born striker notching just three goals all season, his lowest ever tally in a Premier League season.


Despite all of this, a mini-resurgence between October and November leading to four wins out of five had Leicester sitting 13th going into the World Cup break. Surely the panic was over.


Well, following the tournament in Qatar, the Foxes returned to league football as the 18th worst side in the division between then and May. Picking up just 17 points across the back end of the season to plummet down to the Championship.


Just like that, Leicester City's Premier League tale had ended. A story which boasted some of the most remarkable highs the sport has ever seen, the tale of an underdog who defied the odds on multiple occasions and took their people on a wild ride for almost a decade. But it was over. From bridesmaids, to guests, to onlookers. Leicester City are Championship bound.


Do you think Brendan Rodgers was sacked too late? Could Leicester have been saved or had the recruitment gone too stale to stop the inevitable? Let us know in the comments.


Ben Watts

Add comment


There are no comments yet.