After Leicester City’s monumental title achievement last season, fans of English football can relish going into a brand new campaign with absolutely no idea what will happen.
For all too long the Premier League was dominated by Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United winning back to back titles over and over again. Occasionally this was broken up by the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City who all had brief spells at the top – but the fact is the Premier League was as predictable then as the Italian or German league is now.
However, since 2012 there has been four different clubs in a row getting their hands on the trophy with a very good chance there could be a fifth new winner come May which is a very exciting prospect.
People’s expectations have been broken by a team who were relegation certainties at the start of the season, and champions by the end of it.
Leicester breaking the mould and being the first ‘non-elite’ club to win the title since Blackburn Rovers 21 years ago has offered more than just a new name on the roll of honour – it has offered genuine possibility to every other club in the league that they are now capable of leapfrogging those above them.
Where supporters once dreamed of their club stealing an unlikely Champions League place, this expectation has now completely changed – in house and on the terraces.
It has been widely recognised that Leicester didn’t spend much money in putting together a title-winning squad.
Of course they had true match winning performers in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, of which both look likely to stay on at the club despite interest from elsewhere – but what stood out most was the group ethos and work rate.
Under some wonderful man-management from Claudio Ranieri, Leicester have paved the way for the likes of West Ham, Southampton, Liverpool and Spurs in realising the title is not as far out of their reach as thought, having never lifted the title in the Premier League era.
Should one of these sides go unbeaten after the first ten games, they must surely be taken seriously.
Of course the likes of United and City now have Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in charge, so you’d expect them to both mount far better challenges than their dull, lifeless efforts from last season.
Chelsea under new management surely cannot perform any worse than last season whereas Arsenal must surely eventually get it right under Wenger – meaning the big four could well finish as the top four, restoring normal service.
However it only takes a couple of good wins to throw in a new challenger.
For so many years teams flying high would be expected to fall away come Christmas and if not, then certainly by Easter – but this will not be the case next term; Leicester have made sure of this.
Nobody really stands out as title favourites and this is a great thing for English football.
Everybody who finished in the top 8 last season will quietly fancy themselves to do well – which makes for an exciting campaign ahead.