A look into performance's of other 'impossible' champions
It might seem strange that the bookies consider the reigning Premier League champions as more likely to be relegated than retain their title, but Leicester City’s improbable victory last season was so unexpected that it’s hard to know what might happen next. There is, however, some historical precedent that could offer a glimpse into the Foxes’s future.
Retaining the title will be difficult for Leicester, but relegation seems unlikely. In fact, only one team has ever been relegated after winning the English top flight is Manchester City in the 1937/38 season.
There are three more recent examples that offer a better insight into how things could play out for Leicester- Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers, and Nottingham Forest. In each case, success was a surprise to many.
Leeds won the title in 1991/92, in only their second season in the top flight after promotion in 1989/90. However, in 1992/93 they nearly emulated Manchester City, finishing 17th and only two points above the relegation zone. There was an improvement in the following seasons as Leeds established themselves in the Premier League, with the highlights being semi-final appearances in both the UEFA Cup and Champions League, before eventual relegation in 2003/04.
Blackburn won the Premier League in 1994/95, three seasons after promotion from the First Division, but struggled in the preceding season in both the league and Europe, finishing bottom of their Champions League group. After a slow start in the league, they recovered to finish 7th, though were eventually relegated in 1998/99.
Nottingham Forest are the team that Leicester would want to emulate. In 1977/78, Forest became the last side to win the First Division immediately after promotion. They were also the most recent side to win their first top flight title until Leicester also did so last season. Although they were unable to win the league again, finishing 2nd and 5th in the seasons that followed, Forest did the unthinkable and won consecutive European Cups.
Recent history suggests that retaining the title will be difficult for Leicester as no team has managed it since Manchester United in 2008/09, and all the big clubs have strengthened over the summer.
Leicester have done well to keep most of their title-winning squad with N’Golo Kanté being the only major departure so far. The Foxes will be hoping that his presence isn't too badly missed, though they have signed smartly, with one eye on the future. These new signings may prove as successful as unheralded signings from seasons past and allow Leicester to stay dominant.
Football has changed a lot since Forest did what they did and it seems unlikely that Leicester will be able to do the same, though they could use those performances as inspiration. However, very few people thought it possible that a team such as Leicester could do what they have done as those achievements have shown that nothing is impossible in football.