In 2014/15, newly-promoted Leicester City won seven of their last nine matches to ensure Premier League survival. However, by the start of the 2015/16 season Claudio ‘The Tinkerman’ Ranieri had replaced Nigel Pearson as manager and the Leicester City was written off by bookmakers, who offered 5,000/1 against the team winning the top tier of English football for the first time in their 132-year history. Indeed, the same astronomical odds were still available on October 6, by which time the Foxes had won four, and drawn three, of their first seven Premier League fixtures and lay fifth, just three points behind leaders Manchester City.
However, the bookmakers soon learned the error of their ways and what followed was widely considered one of the greatest shocks in sporting history. In a truly remarkable campaign, striker Jamie Vardy broke the Premier League record by scoring for the eleventh consecutive game in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at the King Power Stadium in November and, in early February, Leicester City became favourites to win the Premier League. By mid-March, the Foxes were odds-on and went on to win the title with two games to spare, eventually by ten points. Vardy was named Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, winger Riyad Mahrez was named Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player of the Year, while defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante and centre-half Wes Morgan were both named, alongside Vardy and Mahrez, in the PFA Team of the Year.
Taking a look back at Premier League history, there are a number of examples of the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’.
Having secured a ninth-place finish in their first season back in the top flight for 16 years, Leeds United are working hard to make sure their name is not added to the list.
Whites Impress on Premier League Return
After so many years away from the top table of English football, there was plenty of attention on how Marcelo Bielsa’s side would fare on their return to the Premier League. Leeds, who are 9/1 in the football betting to be relegated this season, did not disappoint as their attacking brand of football saw them secure a top-half finish. None of the ‘Big Six’ teams in the division earned league wins at Elland Road in the 2020-21 campaign, while Leeds’ highlight of the season was a 2-1 victory with 10-men at Manchester City.
Not one to get too carried away with successes, Bielsa is now tasked with trying to guide Leeds through a second season in the top flight. As history has shown, this can be much tougher than many expect.
Blades Offer Fresh Example
Fellow Yorkshire outfit Sheffield United offer up the most recent example of second season syndrome, as the Blades now look ahead to a campaign in the Championship. Like Leeds last term, manager Chris Wilder took his side to ninth place in the 2019-20 Premier League season. Success was built on a solid defence and impressive organisation and the Blades earned plenty of plaudits for their efforts, as they just missed out on securing European football.
Wilder was hoping to build on the foundations of that campaign, but his side went on to win just one of their first 19 games of the 2020-21 season. Wilder could not hold on to his position at Bramall Lane and now the South Yorkshire outfit have the task of trying to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Tractor Boys Top the List
Ipswich Town offer arguably the most notorious example of second season syndrome the Premier League has witnessed since its inception in 1992. After promotion via the playoff final, the Tractor Boys found themselves back in the Premier League for the 2000-01 season. Up as high as third at one stage, manager George Burley saw his side earn UEFA Cup football after a fifth-place finish.
Second season syndrome then hit Ipswich, as they went on to win just one of their first 18 league games of the 2001-02 campaign. There was a revival midway through the season, but another dip in form saw them dragged back into the relegation zone, and a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool on the final day saw them condemned to the second tier.
The likes of Birmingham City, Reading and Wigan Athletic also have their own tales of woe in the Premier League. Leeds are working hard in preseason to make sure they don’t add their name to second season syndrome victims. With fresh faces arriving over the summer, and Bielsa at the helm, Whites supporters will be hopeful Leeds can avoid the trappings of the past.
‘The Shot’ was an iconic moment in the career of former National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar Michael Jordan and, arguably, the most noteworthy play in the history of basketball. ‘The Shot’ occured in the closing seconds of the fifth, decisive game of a best-of-five NBA playoff series between Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers at the Richfield Coliseum, Ohio on May 7, 1989.
In a tense, tightly fought contest, the lead changed hands half a dozen times in the last few minutes. With just three seconds remaining, Cavaliers’ shooting guard Craig Ehlo scored a basket to put his team 100-99 ahead but, remarkably, that was not the final score. Bulls’ coach Paul Douglas ‘Doug’ Collins said later that the tactic behind the final play, which led to ‘The Shot’, was simply, ‘get the ball to Michael and everybody get the [expletive] out of the way!’
Jordan received the ball on the right side of the court, dribbled towards the free throw lane, a.k.a. the ‘key’, and rose for a jumpshot from inside the free throw circle. Ehlo, one of the Cavaliers’ leading defenders, leapt to block the shot, but Jordan appeared to hang in the air, almost levitating, to create space above Ehlo, before releasing the shot. The ball dropped into the net right on the buzzer, giving the Bulls a 101-100 victory, with Jordan pumping his fists in celebration. The Chicago Bulls subsequently progressed to the Eastern Conference finals, where they were ultimately eliminated by the Detroit Pistons.
A celebration of sporting history, and the iconic moments that define it. All of your favourite sports are featured including athletics, football, horse racing, rugby, tennis, and the various US focused sports. Enjoy this trip down memory lane.