Professional soccer leagues in Europe are typically dominated by the “titan” clubs of the sport, like Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, Bayern Munich in Germany, and in England the super-rich clubs with huge fan bases from London, Liverpool, and Manchester. Not this year. The top club in the English Premiere League is poor, little, relatively unknown Leicester City FC, who just earned a spot in the EPL in 2014 after being relegated, and falling, two leagues down the rung nearly 10 years ago and had to fight mightily the last three years to return to the elite English league.
Today Leicester FC totally dominated rich and mighty Manchester City on City’s home turf to take a commanding 5-point lead over the second-place team in the EPL standings. Leicester’s payroll (48 million British Pounds for 25 players) could only pay the wages of Man City’s top five players, (Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, 48 million British Pounds), and yet, somehow, this scrappy club wins with vastly inferior talent in every position than most of the EPL. It has been breathtaking to watch this humble little club beat the big boys, even my beloved Arsenal FC, one of the super-rich, London-based titans.
Seriously, it’s as if a beer league softball team suddenly rose to the top of Major League Baseball. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but still. All the titans should take notice: spending hundreds of millions to hoard top players isn’t necessarily the best way to win. Suddenly heart, grit, effort, and exceptional coaching are back in vogue after years of a spending war between the titans that sucked all the talent from small clubs like Leicester and placed the best players in the biggest, richest clubs. Take notice, titans. You can win without all those high-priced divas.
And I’m searching online for a Leicester City FC jersey. I’m a convert!