An air of inevitability (and danger) to Leicester City's title march

A five-point lead. With eight games to play. That's where Leicester City stands after a 1-0 win over Newcastle on Monday night kept it on course toward its improbable English Premier League title. Like so much about the Foxes' season, the win was decided by a moment of magic, Japanese Shinji Okazaki's overhead kick.

For former English star Gary Lineker, now English television's leading soccer pundit, the Leicester City story is personal. He supported the Foxes as a child, crying all the way home with his father and grandfather after attending the 1969 FA Cup final they lost, played for them, and later helped keep them afloat.

Like Leicester City fans, Lineker considered the Foxes lucky to avoid relegation last season and was hardly impressed by the decision to bring in Italian Claudio Ranieri as manager. Now?

"What we are witnessing," Lineker wrote in a column he penned for the Guardian, "should Leicester go on to win the title, is quite possibly the most unlikely triumph in the history of team sport. A collection of individuals who couldn’t win a football match for love nor money a year ago have turned into an invincible force. A team with a spirit and togetherness the like of which the game has seldom seen. All beautifully held together by the canny, inspirational -- yes, inspirational -- Tinkerman."

There are few American comparisons to Leicester City. The New York Mets of 1969 come to mind: lovable losers who became World Series champions. Everything that could go right went right, in the regular season when they won both games of a September doubleheader by scores of 1-0 thanks to RBI by the starting pitchers, and in the World Series when the tying run in Game 5 was scored after manager Gil Hodges pulled out a ball smudged with shoe polish to convince the umpire that the batter Cleon Jones  had been hit by the pitch.

Most Leicester supporters wonder when Foxes will collapse. One of the most fascinating parts of's Grant Wahl's meeting with a pair of American Leicester City fans, Rocky Fox and Kat Morgan was the disconnect between how they and locals view the Foxes' chances.

“The feeling in Leicester isn’t what it would be in the States if you had a team doing this,” Morgan said. “Everybody’s watching and waiting. Nobody is expecting.”

The schedule is on Leicester City's side. The Foxes lead Tottenham by five points, Arsenal by 11 and Manchester City by 12, though the latter two have a game in hand. All three are still in Europe -- or at least began the week having the distraction of European campaigns.

None of Leicester City's eight games are against teams in the top four, so the title's Leicester City's to lose.

Leicester City Schedule:
March 19 at Crystal Palace (15th)
April 3 vs. Southampton (7th)
April 10 at Sunderland (17th)
April 17 vs. West Ham (5th)
April 24 vs. Swansea City (16th)
May 1 at Manchester United (6th)
May 7 vs. Everton (12th)
May 15 at Chelsea (10th)

Added Lineker, "The pressure will mount with every passing week. With expectation comes danger. They have, though, shown no fear thus far. No sign of wavering under the magnitude of what they might achieve. They are on the edge of sporting immortality."

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