It’s that time again, time to ponder Leicester’s fortunes now that we’re well within the final third of the season. Our plucky Foxes have 11 games to go. Can they escape to something-well-short-of-victory or will the wrenching despair of Claudio Ranieri’s sacking be too crushing to overcome?
To set the stage for our pretty pictures, let’s remind ourselves of that abyss of guilt and shame.
“My heartfelt thanks to everybody at the club, all the players, the staff, everybody who was there and was part of what we achieved.
“But mostly to the supporters. You took me into your hearts from day one and loved me. I love you too.
“No-one can ever take away what we together have achieved, and I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will.”
I well up every time I read that. Heartbreaking.
Er. Hm. I was going to mark when Claudio was sacked but, c’mon, it’s that upturn for game 26 when we beat Liverpool 3-1. That was literally a couple days after he was sacked. The next week it was 3-1 against Hull (yeah, OK).
Otherwise, the current season looks roughly like the disastrous/heroic 2014-15, but notably without the long nearly point-less spell in the first half and so the recovery looks like it’s come much earlier.
For the first half the season Leicester were clinging to the safety trend line, as shown very clearly below:
The most worrying part is that sharp decline at the start of the second half — certainly bringing back memories of two years ago. There really isn’t a huge amount in it, but that cushion of a few points could mean a lot.
It’s worth revisiting the reason why I focus so much on that safety trend, given my first such post:
The dashed line represents steady progress towards the magical 40 points to avoid relegation. (West Ham landed in the drop zone with 42 points in 2002–3, but that was unusual. Most of the time you need even fewer points; last season it was 38.)
This season is a bit more competitive than last; the bottom-placed team currently (Sunderland, 19) has more points than the bottom-placed team did at the end of last term (Aston Villa, 17).
But clawing your way up out of the drop zone is bloody hard, and we mustn’t forget just how bloody close the end of 2014-15 was: Leicester finished with 41 points, just six more than 18th-placed Hull and with three other sides between the two.
That said, the fight is not necessarily with the other low-placed teams, the fight is with whoever you’ve got facing you on the pitch. And then we’re back to the importance of that safety line: snatching as many points wherever you can get them, however (within reason) you can get them.
At work, Roger Domeneghetti asked how much the Foxes owe Claudio. At the time I was well in a post-Claudio daze, but ultimately he’s right. The Foxes owe Claudio a lot, a huge amount, but they don’t owe him relegation. You can “What if?” the possibilities if he’d had stayed, but before those two consecutive wins Leicester certainly looked headed for the drop — and staying up is still far from certain.
I’ll always love you Claudio, but few things last forever.