Last weekend, us sports fans saw a weekend full of underdog stories. Tyson Fury, the gypsy traveller from a long line of bare-knuckle boxers became the heavyweight champion of the world in Hamburg, Andy Murray led Great Britain to their first Davis Cup title since 1936, but maybe most notable underdog story for us football fans was Jamie Vardy, who broke Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record of consecutive Premier League games with a goal.
We all know the story of Jamie Vardy by now. Only four years ago, Vardy was pulling on the red shirt of Fleetwood Town in the Conference Premier, now he is a record holder in the world’s most prestigious football league. But can the Englishman take a step further, and perform at the very top?
We have seen this happen before; English players performing at a less recognised team, only to be snapped up by one of the top-four and fail to make an impact – it happens almost every season, with the likes of Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and Sean Wright-Phillips coming to mind. Is Vardy any different? There is no questioning his goal scoring ability, and if he can do the business surrounded by players such as Danny Drinkwater and Marc Albrighton, could he not when playing alongside the likes of Eden Hazard or Juan Mata for example?
If we take a look at the game last weekend when Manchester United visited the King Power Stadium, Louis Van Gaal’s team looked awfully flat. Van Gaal decided to start with Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial up front, but the pair failed to make an impact together, often drifting out of the match. There seemed to be no energy from either one of them, with barely any attempts to break through Leicester’s wall of defence. Vardy’s game is built on his energy and his pace – Leicester’s entire game plan on Saturday evening revolved around getting the ball past United’s high line of defence into Vardy. Surely United could do with a player like that? He seems to be everything they are lacking at the moment.
Despite all this, I have queries whether a big club will even go in for Vardy. In the Premier League, no more than 17 of the 25 man squad can be from across seas, meaning English players are hot property with large price tags. Why would the likes of Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour fork out a reported £25million on Vardy if they can look abroad and find a cheaper alternative? It’s not as if they have the English national side in mind. If we classify the top six clubs at the moment as Man City, Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs, only one those clubs have a British owner, so there is nothing stopping them from signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang instead for example, who has been estimated at a similar price.
Without a doubt, it will be exciting to see whether Jamie Vardy is a great player, or an average player in great form. Could he make it at a top club? Can he nail down a starting role in the national side? I’m sure we will have clearer answers to these questions come the end of the season.