Leicester survival talk is setting them up for failure

Those at the club still insist they’re only concerned with Premier League survival despite being in contention for a title

Riyad Mahrez, Claudio Ranieri and the rest of the gang at Leicester aren’t fooling anyone. They can continue to drone on and on about their only goal being Premier League survival, but no one should believe that for a second. When you’re on top of the Premier League table in December, you are dreaming of a Premier League title.

The continued rhetoric about just worrying about Premier League survival has just gotten silly now. The latest comments from the Foxes’ best player, Riyad Mahrez, claim that he doesn’t believe his side is capable of winning the league and they are still focused on their original goal of 40 points and Premier League survival. While I understand that the club doesn’t want to get carried away with Premier League title talk in December with so much work left to be done, the talk about just worrying about Premier League survival is just absurd.

I credit Ranieri for trying to manage expectations around his squad. It’s the smart thing for a manager to do. Leicester are already the biggest story around the Premier League this season and he’s doing his level-headed best to make sure the press surrounding his players doesn’t get out of hand. His star striker Jamie Vardy has gone from virtually unknown to world-famous in a matter of months and I suspect many of his teammates are experiencing the same relative changes in notoriety this season. Keeping the players focused on short-terms goals isn’t an easy task, but it’s one Ranieri is taking very seriously.

The trouble is, he’s taking it too far. By instructing his stars to only be concerned with achieving the magical 40 point mark for Premier League safety, he’s setting them up for a dip in form. What does he think will happen when they reach that magical plateau? If all you’ve talked about for an entire season is trying to earn 40 points, once you do so it’s natural to relax. Leicester can’t actually be satisfied with just finishing north of 17th place this season.

This might be the best chance they ever have to win a Premier League title or achieve Champions League qualification. This sort of opportunity may literally never come again in the lifetime of the club’s current players. They have to do everything possible to seize this rare chance at glory. There’s much more at stake for the Foxes this season other than just making sure they stay up in the Premier League for another year.

I admit that winning a Premier League title might be too ambitious of an aim for Leicester, but they should have more belief than that. Even if they don’t have the quality for a title run, they should be pushing and grinding for every point they can get their hands on. Certainly Champions League qualification is within the realm of possibility for the club, so why not push for that with every ounce of energy you have? Achieving that would make each player on the current squad an absolute club legend.

I’m confident that Ranieri and those at Leicester believe they are doing everything they can to squeeze every point they can out of the season. The error in their ways is setting a goal too low given their current league position. If they relax, even for a brief moment, after hitting the 40-point mark, it might cost them Champions League qualification.