Will lightning strike twice for Leicester City or for Brendon Rodgers?
Football may be known as the beautiful game, but every coin has two sides and its the same with football. Every now and then, the beautiful game provides us with a reminder of just how cruel it can be to everyone who loves it.
And this was the case for everyone associated with Liverpool Football Club in the aftermath of Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip against Chelsea in 2014 which cost the Reds their first-ever Premier League title. Though a lot has changed for the players and the Anfield faithful since that fateful day, Brendon Rodgers probably still remembers the incident vividly since he was in charge of Liverpool on that day.
While Liverpool have managed to win substantial silverware since that day, the same cannot be said about the Northern Irish manager, so far. However, as fate would have it, over half a decade later, Rodgers finds himself in a position where he can settle old scores with his former employers.
Ever since taking charge of Leicester City earlier this year, Rodgers has transformed the Foxes into one of the best teams in the country. However, a lot of Leicester’s progress under Rodgers has been dwarfed by the achievements of Liverpool and Manchester City. Despite making a strong start to the ongoing season, a lot of people expected Leicester to fade away, soon rather than later.
15 games into the season though, Rodgers and his team refuse to go away and demand to be considered as serious title contenders. As we go into the busy festive period, Leicester seem to be reliving their fairytale title-winning season in a better way as they have accumulated more points now, than they did at this stage in the 2015-16 campaign.
And going by what we have seen from Leicester so far, there is every possible chance that history might go on to repeat itself. Though Liverpool have not slipped up so far, there is a real chance that they might falter towards the end of the season as the weight of expectations and history begin to take its toll on them.
Meanwhile, Manchester City will be focusing on winning the Champions League since that is what Pep Guardiola was hired to do in the first place. While Liverpool are almost certain to feel the weight of the world on their shoulders towards the end of the Premier League season, City will be hell-bent on breaking their European duck. And this is where being the underdogs can really work in Leicester’s favour.
In addition to this, Rodgers does not have to deal with the distraction of European football this season which enables him to have tunnel vision and focus his eyes firmly on Premier League glory. If the former Celtic manager can manage his troops well over the course of the next month or so and maintain the same level of performance on the pitch, Leicester will find themselves in a great place to win a second Premier League title in four years.
Blast from the Past
However, Rodgers and his players will have completely different reasons to try and win the league. While Rodgers will be trying to exorcise the demons of Liverpool’s inexplicable title collapse during the 2014-15 season, the few remaining members from Leicester’s title-winning season, on the other hand, will be out to prove that their first Premier League winner’s medal was not a flash in the pan.
Regardless of how Leicester City finish this season, they will certainly have a battle on their hands to keep hold of James Maddison, Ricardo Parreira, Ben Chilwell and Youri Tielemans among others with some of the biggest European clubs already scouting these players. Given this scenario, the best possible shot that Rodgers has to keep his players at the King Power Stadium next season is to win the Premier League.
Whichever way you look at it, lightning is all set to strike twice. Either Leicester City will go on to the improbable and claim a second Premier League crown or Rodgers will be left with another bitter pill to swallow. Whatever happens, Leicester City’s 2019-20 season will certainly live long in the memory of Premier League fans for a long time to come.Published 06 Dec 2019, 11:00 IST