We here at Cartilage Free Captain are probably not the ones who should be reading children’s stories because we hate fairy tales, mainly because of last season’s improbable Premier League Champions, Leicester City. Tomorrow, the Foxes make a trip to White Hart Lane where they are currently looking up at Spurs on the table, sitting in 12th place and in desperate need of points. Spurs currently sit fifth at the moment, but just a single point behind the logjam at the top. Ahead of tomorrow’s match, I sat down with Shane over at our sister site for Leicester supporters, Fosse Posse, to talk about last season, playing in the Champions League, and what to expect for the match.
Carty Free: So, uh...you won the Premier League last season. Really, we're happy for you. I mean it....oh who am I kidding? We're the only ones that didn't enjoy the fairy tale and I'm probably still bitter about it. In all seriousness, tell us what it was like following a team that was a 5000-1 shot to win it all and ultimately did the improbable?
Fosse Posse: It was absolutely insane/incredible. I was born in Leicester and have always followed the team (was there the day they were relegated to League One) so it was really hard to fathom what they accomplished. Still is really. I was also lucky enough to be there for the last two matches of the season and the parade. An experience I’ll never forget.
Jamie Vardy appeared to have one foot out the door, but ultimately turned down Arsenal. The same can't be said for N'Golo Kante, who is now with Chelsea. Looking back, would you have rather kept Kante and let Vardy go?
Tough to say. Kante was a massive part of the team last year and with Vardy’s slow start, it’s easy to say that keeping Kante would have been more valuable. However, Vardy is the Leicester story in my opinion. He exemplifies everything that this team represents and him staying just furthers that.
Wes Morgan and Robert Huth somehow fixed the defensive woes last season about midway through and somehow became a great pairing. While surrendering 15 goals in nine matches isn't completely doom and gloom, it isn't great when you've only scored 11. What's the issue this time around?
Great question. I think teams have figured out how to play Leicester and that pair aren’t getting any younger. With a number of new players in the squad, it’s definitely a case of squad rotation. Seems like the team doesn’t quite know itself the way it did last season but that will improve with time…though that may be too late for the club to make a serious challenge to repeat as champions.
I think everyone expects Leicester to cash in on Riyad Mahrez at some point. How much do you think he goes for and when is the earliest you think he could be sold?
That remains to be seen. Don’t think it’s this season, even if the team continues to sputter in the league. The fee Leicester will receive is definitely based on his performance (which couldn’t have been better last year). Look for something upwards of £25m easily if/when he does move on.
Leicester are currently stuck in the mid-table with 11 points, but it's still early. With most people thinking you have no chance of repeating as title winners, what’s a reasonable finishing position for Leicester at the end of the season?
I’d love to see Leicester in the top 7-8 at this point. A lot of teams have figured it out this year and have played Leicester well. Having said that, this is still a very good team with a number of new players who will be key contributors.
People who suggest that playing in the Champions League is a bad thing obviously don’t want to be in it or for that matter win the thing. Leicester may never play in the Champions League again so performing in that completion the way the club has makes me incredibly proud. Having said that, the rotation of the squad is one thing the club has struggled with given the influx of new talent. Hopefully that’ll sort itself out and the team can compete on two fronts effectively.
Speaking of the Champions League, how bizarre is it to you to see Leicester rubbing shoulders with the best of Europe at the King Power Stadium?
It’s unreal. With a place in the knockout stage looking likely, I can’t wait to see who the club faces and the kind of atmosphere that’ll create. Real Madrid played a friendly in Leicester a while back and I thought that was as good as it was going to get.
Are you looking forward to winning the Champions League with a series of bizarre 1-0 victories?
I will certainly take that. Leicester gets results when it matters most and hopefully the club can keep the great momentum going and make a run deep into the tournament.
How do you expect Leicester to line up against Spurs?
I’d be shocked if Jamie Vardy isn’t back in the XI, probably replacing Shinji Okazaki. Will be a very standard 4-4-2 for the club though. Your standard backline of Fuchs-Huth-Morgan-Simpson, a midfield of Musa-Drinkwater-Amartey-Mahrez and then Vardy-Slimani up front.
Can we get a prediction?
I think this is tough one for both sides with a 1-1 draw seeming likely.
We’d like to thank Shane for stopping by and answering our questions. Fosse Posse is fairly new to the SBN network of blogs, so feel free to head over and check them out when you get a chance!