By: Matt Levinson
Kim Kardashian could be elected U.S. President in 2020. We might find out that Elvis Presley is alive. Scientists could discover that the Loch Ness Monster actually exists.
Well, U.K. bookmakers thought those occurrences were more likely than Leicester City winning the English Premier League this year (5000-1 odds).
But that’s exactly what could happen Sunday morning.
While most American sports fanatics are obsessing over 40-yard dash times and sprained MCL’s, I will be glued to my TV watching Leicester (pronounced Lester) try to accomplish the unthinkable — raise its first top flight trophy since the club was founded in 1884.
A quick primer: For more than 20 years, English football (a.k.a. soccer) has been dominated by four big money clubs: Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal. No other team has won the title since the 1994/1995 season. (Liverpool supporters such as me think we are among the top four, but, in reality, we are not.)
So, when plucky little Leicester, nicknamed the Foxes, entered the season last August, the team’s goal was simple. Play competitive football and avoid relegation.
Nearly nine months later, Leicester is on the brink of glory. The squad has been so dominant that it only needs to win one of its three remaining matches to hoist the Premier League trophy.
How’d they do it? We can all learn a few lessons from the Foxes.
Underpromise and Overdeliver. Confidence is a great business attribute, but many set themselves up for failure by guaranteeing unrealistic results. The cool demeanor and steady hand of Leicester’s 64-year-old manager Claudio Ranieri has been a key factor in the club’s success. He’s never displayed the arrogant, overconfidence many do when achieving success. After a roaring start, Claudio insisted Leicester supporters not get their hopes too high. Only now, has begun to mention title aspirations. We can all learn a little from Claudio.
High-Priced Talent isn’t Always the Answer. It’d be great to have an unlimited recruitment and salary budget but that is not always the case. It often comes down to hiring the right team members and creating harmony. Like many of us, Leicester is on a budget. The team’s management had to scour the earth for its players. Leicester’s starting 11 players this past Saturday hailed from 10 different countries — an incredible assortment of youngsters on the rise and older, wily veterans looking for a chance to finally shine. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with the right chemistry.
Timing is Everything. Catching a prospective client at just the right moment. A pitch getting through email spam filters. A fantastic idea popping into your head during a meeting. To achieve success, we all need a bit of luck. What we do with it is the key. Leicester’s miracle season coincided with down years for the “Big Four.” In fact, due to injuries, disappointing performances and brutal schedules, none of them will likely even finish second. What I admire most about Leicester is the team’s confidence to seize, not shy away from, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Now, it’s not fait accompli. Leicester still has to win at least one of its three remaining matches to claim the title. But, I know they’ll do it. Even as a Liverpool supporter, I have to root for the underdogs – especially when they have a player with this name.