Looking at the title — yes, I know, it’s crazy to ask the question. But it has seemed to me that it is genuinely a question that people seem to be avoiding. Without a doubt, Leicester winning the Premier League would be one of the greatest stories of an underdog overachieving in the history of the sport. That goes without saying. But is it a good thing for the rest of the league? I’ll try to answer the questions posed below by the end of this article, asking questions without attempting to answer them would be unfair. Regardless, the questions need to at least be considered. Could Leicester City winning the league be a bad thing?
The biggest concern has to do with the European coefficient. England seems safe for the time being, but it was a very real concern that they might lose the 4th place Champions League spot to Italy. Performances in the Europe this season have ensured that England will keep that spot, but they are still in a precarious situation. Will a season of poor performances in Europe have long reaching consequences? The question hidden within that question, I guess, is can Leicester compete in Europe? It’s a huge ask, especially with a team that isn’t renowned for being the most solid tactically. Let’s be honest, they are great to watch because they are enjoying their soccer, but it’s not tactically astute style. In fact, it is the lack of tactics that has given them the freedom to perform. Also, can they handle the extra games? That’s a big ask, to handle all of the games on top of needing to keep up their league form. Leicester wouldn’t be the first team to slump with the European responsibility. Could a poor performance in Europe put England in danger of losing that 4th spot again?
Another worry, for the rest of the league at least, is that with this shocking run that Leicester City have had, and the poor seasons many of the ‘big teams’ are having, could lead to those ‘big teams’ — the ones with all of the money — will take the threat from below very, very seriously, and spend accordingly to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Many journalists have danced around the possibility all season, but almost every team in the traditional ‘Big Four’, plus Tottenham and Manchester City, are set for big summers. It is already too late to prevent this level of investment, but could this season of success bite Leicester and the rest of the teams outside of the Top-of-the-Table-Club in the butts in the long run?
Finally, a concern hitting a little closer to home for Leicester City. Will this success make it much harder for them to perform from now on? A big part of why Leicester are doing so well this season is the complete lack of pressure. Claudio Ranieri has done a marvelous job of taking pressure off the players. If they are the title winners this season, that pressure will be inescapable. Teams will sit deeper against them, which will prevent the counter attack that they have been so effective with. If they start slipping at all, questions will arise in the media about whether last season was a fluke. Remember, last season Jamie Vardy had 5 goals total, and he will be 30 next year. Can he continue this glut of form? What of Riyad Mahrez? He has had a break out season, and I wouldn’t be shocked if a larger team came in an blew the bank on him. Will they be able to keep up the form should they lose the Algerian wizard? Leicester aren’t a poor team, but neither is Southampton and they’ve been plundered almost every summer. Will Leicester become victims of their own success because of this incredible season?
All of those questions are important ones, but many can’t be answered yet. They should still be looked at, though. For the first question, I do believe that Leicester City will struggle in Europe. The added games, with a more tactical focus, and Ranieri’s lack of success in Europe all point to that. Better European performances from the other qualifying teams will counteract Leicester, though. As for concerns about the other teams strengthening, that will definitely happen. Liverpool appear set for a massive summer, as do Manchester City under Pep Guardiola and Manchester United under who we can assume will be Jose Mourinho. Chelsea will spend depending on who is in charge at the start of the summer, and Arsenal can be expected to have at least one big pick up. The final question is the most difficult. There will almost certainly be a slump and Leicester City’s players will be linked with a move away the whole transfer window. But how far they slump and if they will lose those players are yet to be seen. For now, go Leicester. Now is not the time for cynicism. Make history.