If you had lumped on Leicester being the last English representative in the Champions League back in August, you would have been laughing all the way to the bookies following Manchester City's defensive ineptitude in Monaco on Wednesday night.
And if you had backed The Foxes to do so without Claudio Ranieri at the helm, you could have marched into work on Thursday morning, handed in a letter of resignation, and started planning for retirement on the Caribbean Islands.
Leicester's change in fortune under Craig Shakespeare
Leicester now find themselves in royal company, sticking out like the sorest of thumbs among the dynasties of Barcelona and Real Madrid, the German giants that are Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and the aspiring pack of Juventus, Atletico Madrid, and Monaco.
Indeed, Leicester's rejuvenation under Craig Shakespeare has been nothing short of remarkable. Since the 53-year-old took over, The Foxes have taken maximum points from their #Premier League fixtures, qualified for the #Champions League last eight, and the controversy surrounding Ranieri's sacking appears to have been swept under the proverbial carpet.
The Foxes open the door in the relegation battle
But while the city of Leicester celebrated into the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Foxes relegation rivals would have been sipping away at a small nightcap of their own to toast Leicester’s success.
The current Premier League champions may be sitting three points above the relegation zone, but now must play at least two more games than the teams around them before the end of the season.
In fact, while a lot of Leicester’s counterparts will be looking towards the East Midlands with a hint of jealousy, those in the bottom six will be hoping that the Foxes progress as far as possible in the competition, ensuring that they go into their weekend Premier League fixtures on the back of ninety knackering minutes against one of Europe’s top sides.
For a lot of Leicester’s players, this is the last chance they will get to play in the Champions League, and that will serve as an unavoidable distraction.
Given that the squad was widely accused of underperforming to oust Ranieri from his managerial post, you would not put it past Riyad Mahrez to pull out of a challenge against the likes of Sunderland to avoid getting injured before the biggest game of his career.
And it certainly would not be the first time that a cup run has coincided with a team’s slide towards the relegation zone.
Back in 2011, Birmingham famously defeated Arsenal in the League Cup final before getting relegated later that year. In 2013, Wigan scored a last-minute winner in the FA Cup final, only to drop down to the Championship following a loss at Arsenal just a few days later, and only last year did Crystal Palace’s run to Wembley correspond with an alarming drop from the top half of the table which narrowly saw them avoid finishing in the bottom three.
And while Leicester may experience a Champions League comedown, another problem for the Foxes is that the teams below them keep picking up points. Swansea have won five of their nine league games since Paul Clement took over, Palace are finally showing signs of life under Sam Allardyce, and Hull continue to prove their doubters wrong by staying in touch with those above them.
The perfect end?
Although Sunderland and Middlesbrough look increasingly likely for the drop, there remains a final relegation place to be filled, and would it not be the most proper end to two odd defying seasons at the King Power stadium if Leicester were languishing in the bottom three at the end of May?
Leicester showed on Tuesday night that they are best with their backs against the wall, but with the Champions League last eight now firmly under the spotlight, the club’s Premier League relegation battle is disappearing further into the shadows, and there is every chance that Craig Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream could end in Shakespearian tragedy. #Football