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Leicester promoted to Premier League after Leeds thrashed as Guardiola influence pays off

Leicester have won promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt after Leeds collapsed to a shock 4-0 thrashing by QPR on Friday night. Goals by Ilias Chair, Lucas Andersen, Lyndon Dykes and Sam Field have severely damaged Leeds’ own hopes of earning promotion, with Ipswich now in the driving seat to finish as runners-up behind the Foxes.

Leeds had to win tonight to suspend Leicester’s promotion party and ensure they themselves remained in the hunt for a return to the Premier League. Instead, Leicester’s place in next season’s top-flight was sealed before Enzo Maresca’s side take to the field against Preston on Monday night.

Express Sport highlights four talking points from a remarkable Leicester campaign.

Pep Guardiola influence

Former midfielder Maresca was the surprise choice to lead Leicester back to the Premier League. The Italian had enjoyed the best possible coaching education as assistant manager to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Leicester’s style has taken inspiration from the reigning Premier League champions.

Maresca’s previous experience as a head coach included an ill-fated 14-game reign at Parma. He had also overseen City’s U21 side in the first of two spells on the Etihad campus. The 44-year-old credits Guardiola for his understanding of the game.

“I’ve been lucky, I’ve worked under [Carlo] Ancelotti, [Marcello] Lippi, Manuel Pellegrini, all fantastic managers, but in terms of understanding the game, Pep has 100 per cent had an impact on me,” Maresca said last August.

“It helps a lot having worked with the kinds of people [I have worked with]. You learn things and at the end you create your own idea as a manager and as a person. It’s just something gradual.

“The first idea was probably born when I faced Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team as a player, that was the first time I realised something different happened and I was curious to understand, so I started analysing games and from there taking things from different managers. In the end you create your own idea.”

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall shines

Although a solid performer in the Premier League, it was not especially clear that Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall would emerge as Leicester’s most effective performer in the Championship.

But the 25-year-old has struck 12 goals and provided 14 assists in the second tier and has been one of the best players in the division. Had Leicester failed to win promotion, it seems inconceivable that the academy graduate would have remained.

Leicester may even need to fend off competition for Dewsbury-Hall in the summer, regardless of their promotion. A box-to-box midfielder with a penchant for perfectly-timed runs into the opposition area, Dewsbury-Hall will be one to watch next season.

Battling through bad form

Leicester enjoyed an 11-point lead at the top of the Championship in early February. They seemed set to cruise to promotion with the same ease that Burnley had done 12 months before them.

But those hopes came crashing down with a concerning drop in form. Maresca’s side won only three matches in a 10-game run between February 17 and April 12, losing six of them. Recent victories over West Brom and Southampton have put them back on track.

Leicester have benefited from being able to attract a couple of names familiar with Premier League fans. Former Tottenham man Harry Winks has shone in midfield, while defender Conor Coady dropped down a level to help the Foxes gain promotion after a tough year spent on loan at Everton. A 37-year-old Jamie Vardy has also rolled back the years, scoring 16 Championship goals.

Those experienced players have gelled with a couple of exciting young talents. How Leicester fare with a return to the Premier League will be an intriguing plot to follow.

Potential Premier League penalty

On March 21, Leicester were charged with an alleged breach of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability regulations. A day later, the club issued “urgent” legal proceedings against the charge, and a subsequent transfer embargo imposed by the EFL.

And in April, Leicester announced a loss of £89.7million, taking their losses in each of their last three Premier League campaigns to over £215m. Top-flight clubs are permitted to lose only £105m across a given three-year period.

Despite the Premier League harbouring a policy of sanctions being handed out during the same season in which a charge is made, the EFL says it has no power to do so. Leicester, who remain unhappy with the EFL’s handling of the situation, may end up with a Premier League points deduction if found guilty of the breach – although some clubs are in favour of changing elements of PSR for next season.


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