Fairy tales to flops – How 2016’s underdogs are 2017’s underachievers

298 days after winning the Premier League title for the first time in their 133 year history, Leicester City have done the unthinkable and sacked manager Claudio Ranieri.

The man who brought sport it’s most fairy tale moment and will no doubt have a statue resurrected in his honour in the city of Leicester was sacked in the cruellest of fashions.

Leicester sit 18th in the EPL and look like a team void of confidence but with Champions League football still to play, the question remains; Why was Ranieri sacked now?

Manchester United persisted with David Moyes until they were eliminated from the Champions League and by then they were sitting a lowly seventh in the Premier League.

Leicester were never going to win the Premier League this season and the owners were not deluded enough to believe they had a chance of backing up last years feats.

Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddanaprabha’s only expectation for the club this season was to avoid relegation, while focussing on having successful Champions League campaign.

It’s safe to say the club have done there best to not deliver on this expectation and for this reason Ranieri has been sacked.

But Leicester isn’t alone in failing to deliver a season after achieving unexpected success.

2016 will be remembered as the year of the fairy tale story in sport.

Teams like Leicester and the Chicago Cubs broke droughts that span over 100 years, while others like Adelaide United and the Sydney Thunder won their first championships.

But as already been evident in 2017, these unlikely winners have failed to deliver in their title defence and have returned to positions they have routinely held.

Leicester have always been a ‘yoyo’ club, constantly moving between divisions and never really established as a Premier League side, having only been in the Premier League for 11 of the competitions 25 yeas.

It’s highly unlikely Leicester will ever win the title again but it is plausible that they will be relegated in the year’s to come.

For a man that brought so much joy to a small team, the Foxes owners were swift to axe the history maker.

2016 saw two teams in Australian sport break their ducks and win their first titles.

Adelaide United were crowned A-League champions for the first time following a 3-1 victory over Western Sydney in the final.

A-League Grand Final - Adelaide v Western Sydney
Courtesy: A-League

In the post season the Reds lost key players including Bruce Djite, Jimmy Jeggo and Stefan Mauk and have struggled in their title defence, winning only three of their first 21 games and sitting bottom of the table.

Another team who created history last year was the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash league.

The Thunder have always been the seller dwellers and had finished last in three of the opening four seasons of the competition.

But under the captaincy of Mike Hussey, the Thunder claimed their first title in the fifth year of the competition, only to again finish last in 2016-17.

The form drop of these teams is a warning to the Western Bulldogs, Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Both the Bulldogs and the Cubs have yet to start their title defence but the Cavaliers have proven it is difficult to achieve.

Apart from a catastrophic form slump the Cavaliers will win the Eastern conference and feature in the NBA playoff finals series.

But Cleveland’s form is not as good as last season and pressure has shown, evident when LeBron James ranted about needing a playmaker.

LeBron James
Clevelands LeBron James

Few of the underdogs from last season may have success this year but for most, 2017 will be the year the underdog returns to their rightful place in the pecking order.

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