After a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspurs this Monday, Leicester City F.C. is one win away from a historic title win on Manchester United’s hallowed Old Trafford pitch.
As inspirational as its rags to riches story is, exactly how have the underdogs — Leicester — been able to come within reach of title glory? The answer is simple: the quality of the Premier League is declining at an alarming rate.
Where best to start but the decline of the league’s powerhouse, Man Utd. Since the conception of the Premier League, the phrase “title winner” has been synonymous with two names: Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex was the orchestrator of the era, which brought 13 Premier League and two Champion’s League titles to Old Trafford.
After Sir Alex’s 2013 title triumph and subsequent retirement, the reds have not been able to adapt to the new era and have not been close to winning a league title since. The appointments of former manager David Moyes and current manager Louis Van Gaal have been the center of the blame-game. But to the frustration of many United fans, any chance of this current squad and manager turning their fortunes for the better are slim.
Since the the decline of Man Utd., traditionally underperforming teams have been challenging and defeating the established powers with increasing regularity.
This unpredictability in the Premier League has seen the rise of a several mid-table teams. In fact, only half of last season’s top four sit in the current top four. Leicester and Tottenham — this season’s newcomers to the top of the table — sit first and second after finishing 17th and fifth last season, respectively.
Undoubtedly, Leicester and Tottenham have been the most impressive and exciting teams to watch this season, but is that really saying much? When compared to the top two teams in Europe’s other big leagues, the quality of Leicester and Tottenham’s teams do not come close. A Champion’s League duel between Leicester and the likes of Barcelona, Atletico, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, PSG or Juventus is — put nicely — an execution waiting to happen.for me.
Other teams out of favor this season are Chelsea and Arsenal. Chelsea, at ninth, is set to complete the worst Premier League title defense in history, while Arsenal, just barely hanging onto fourth, has been condemned to a recent history of choking. Those familiar with former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard can comprehend the substantial degree of the infamous Arsenal Choke.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger is currently in his 12th season since last winning the Premier League. This title drought should come as no surprise to any Arsenal supporter, because the decline of Arsenal’s squad since its glory days has been painful (or enjoyable for United fans such as myself).
For Chelsea, their woes lie elsewhere. Since owner Roman Abramovich purchased the club in 2003, a revolving cycle of money, managers and Jose Mourinho has given the club recent success in the form of both domestic and European titles.
Recently fired, Jose Mourinho led the club to a disappointing start to the season, which saw them as low as 16th in the table. Such events are unheard of in the Premier League, but since Man United’s seventh place title defense in the 2013/2014 season it seems as if the previous rules of thumb are losing importance.
In a milieu of disappointment and inconsistency within the Premier League, Leicester has found the perfect time in which to execute a potentially title winning campaign. Rather ironically, they have the opportunity to cap off this most unpredictable season by lifting the Premier League in the envious gaze of the Old Trafford faithful — a feat Sir Alex managed only three times in 25 years in charge.
As a United fan, it would hurt to see another team lifting a trophy on the famed Old Trafford pitch. But biases aside, it must be said that such a moment will encapsulate the romance of the Premier League and bring a smile to the faces of neutral fans worldwide.
Email Dereck Amakye Jr. at [email protected]