On this day five years ago, Leicester City won the Premier League. A tempered 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge saw Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes lead the table by seven points with only two games left to play, thus confirming their status as champions of England for the first time in their history.
Here, we take a look at what has happened for the club in the years since, and why a future title triumph would come as far less of a shock than the incredible story of that 2015/16 campaign.
The Five Years Since Leicester City Won the Premier League
Sacking Ranieri Nine Months Later
As Leicester fans and players basked in the glory of becoming domestic champions – just one season on from their great escape and avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth – many onlookers found themselves asking the same important question: what would the following season bring for the defending champions?
Although a repeat of that remarkable feat would have been impossible, the club’s owners were keen to see another season of high achievement from Ranieri’s miracle makers. When a subsequent relegation scrap ensued, the Italian manager was sacked just nine months after guiding the team to Premier League glory. At the time, Leicester were one point above the relegation zone with 13 matches to play and could have become the first defending champions to suffer relegation since 1938.
The Foxes’ Champions League campaign that season provided a welcome distraction from domestic struggles (they topped their group before narrowly bowing out to Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals), but Ranieri was relieved of his duties a day after the first leg of a last-16 tie with Sevilla.
His assistant manager, Craig Shakespeare, was handed a three-year contract after an initial spell in interim charge but was sacked just four months after taking the job on a permanent basis.
The Unsuccessful Claude Puel Appointment
Eyebrows were raised when former Southampton manager Claude Puel was named as Shakespeare’s successor at the King Power stadium. Although the Frenchman had led the Saints to an eighth-placed finish and an EFL Cup final in his first season in English football, he was sacked by the south coast club over concerns relating to his style of play as well as his lack of connection with the team’s supporters.
Despite having been described by Leicester as a “perfect fit” to take the club forwards, the same issues would once again arise under Puel at his new club. Supporters, many of whom had been underwhelmed by his very appointment, never truly warmed to the former Monaco manager in the way they revered Ranieri. Additionally, key players such as Jamie Vardy failed to thrive under Puel’s slower tempo and possession-based system.
Eventually, Puel was sacked after only 16 months of a three-year deal. Although his time at Leicester has since gone down as a failure, special praise must still be reserved for the Frenchman over his conduct during one of the most tragic moments in the club’s history. Puel was still the manager in October 2018 when club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was one of five people killed in a helicopter crash outside the stadium. Despite rife speculation over his job at the time, Puel’s dignified response to the tragedy – where he revealed all players and club staff had been offered counselling – was well-received by all in connection to the club.
Brendan Rodgers Restoring Leicester European Ambitions
Leicester were swift to name former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers as Puel’s successor in February 2019. The Northern Irishman left his job at Celtic in order to take over at the King Power Stadium and has led the Foxes on an upward trajectory since his appointment.
Last season, Rodgers’ Leicester side received plaudits for their attractive brand of football as well as their use of young players. The likes of Caglar Soyuncu, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison have risen to the fore under the current manager, while experienced players such as Vardy have continued to impress.
Additionally, recent weeks have seen Nigeria striker Kelechi Iheanacho emerge as one of the Premier League’s hottest marksmen as Rodgers’ Foxes continue adding strings to their bow.
The manager will hope this season concludes with a place in the Champions League, which Leicester are presently on track to achieve. The Foxes sit third in the table with four fixtures left to play.
Amid all the drama surrounding the failed Super League breakaway, Rodgers has calmly spoken of his own desire to lead his team to Europe’s top table via sporting merit. This time around, he looks set to achieve precisely that. Given the unpredictable manner in which the last five years have unfolded, none would bet against this Leicester team rising even further than that.