After an unforgettable season where they won the Premier League, thereby creating arguably the most unbelievable story in the history of sport, Leicester City have begun preparations for the next season. Not one to rest on his laurels, former Chelsea and Parma boss Claudio Ranieri has begun rebuilding his squad ahead of what should be an immensely difficult season ahead.
Not only will the Foxes be fighting against a host of other strong clubs in the most competitive league in the world, they will also have to get used to the demands of playing mid-week football. Many big clubs have struggled when they’ve had to play three games a week, and Leicester are surely going to find it tough as well. While these two reasons are possibly the biggest hurdles that stand in the way of Wes Morgan and company, the undisputed biggest challenge that they will have to face, is expectation.
Starting the season as relegation favourites is one thing, starting it as defending champions is a whole different ball game altogether. In the first scenario, all the Foxes had to do was secure their Premier League status for one more year for their fans to remain happy. In the second case, a matter of realistic expectations comes into play. If a Leicester fan were to say that he expects his team to win the League yet again, the chances of that happening are really slim. They’d also be disappointed if they expected their team to qualify for the Champions League once again. A more realistic outcome would be a top six finish that would more or less stabilize their position as a top club because of them doing well for two seasons in a row.
While the third outcome seems to be the most likely one of the lot, there is another thing that could happen. Leicester may find themselves struggling really bad to even climb out of the bottom half of the table. Their own form the last season is testament of the unpredictable nature of top-class sport, and we may very well see them turning out to be a flash in the pan that fizzles out after one unbelievable season.
Things are already starting to look bleak for them as numerous reports from the UK’s leading news agencies have revealed that Arsenal have made a 20m pound move for their striking sensation Jamie Vardy. And not only have the Gunners launched a bid, but it’s probably been accepted as well as reports are suggesting that the move could be finalized even before the start of the Euros. Without their start striker to bank upon, the next season should be a tough one for the Foxes and a huge summer awaits them ahead of their most memorable and gruesome campaign in decades. How they should fare in it is to be seen, but one thing is for certain, they’ll certainly have more eyes on them than they’ve ever had.