The former Foxes defender discusses goings on at the King Power Stadium with HITC Sport.
At this stage last season, Leicester City had nine points to their name and were in the midst of a run that would see them go 13 Premier League fixtures without a win – including sequences of four and six defeats in succession.
How times change.
Fast forward 12 months and, as we prepare for the resumption of top-flight activities following the latest international break, the Foxes are absolutely flying.
A very healthy return of 25 points has been accumulated, enough to sit third in the table, with only one reversal suffered and only league leaders Manchester City having plundered more goals.
It is remarkable to think that such success has been achieved on the back of a summer which saw last year’s saviour, Nigel Pearson, unceremoniously removed from his post and replaced by former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri.
Questions were asked of the Italian upon his appointment, with a penchant for tinkering during his time at Stamford Bridge causing the greatest concern to a fan base accustomed to watching a settled side and wary of seeing solid foundations rocked by an influx of fresh faces.
They need not have worried.
Minor tweaking has been made, but Leicester have built around the more established members of their squad and brought the best of those fully adjusted to their surroundings after a year back among the elite.
It is impossible not to have been impressed by their efforts so far, with fans, pundits and players past and present quick to salute a remarkable story and the job overseen by Ranieri.
Former Leicester defender Gerry Taggart, who was speaking at the filming of the Vauxhall Home Nations Football Show, told HITC Sport during a phone interview on events at the King Power Stadium: “Unbelievable. At the beginning of the season, they were probably one of the favourites to be relegated, but fair play to Ranieri, he’s come in and he hasn’t really tinkered with it too much, which he has been known for doing in the past, and Leicester are just a breath of fresh air at the minute. What he has done is keep the backroom staff, so you have to give him credit for that as well. Whether or not he was told he had to keep them, I’m not too sure, but the backroom staff of Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh have obviously helped him. He’s just run with it and it’s coming good for them at the minute. It’s a joy to see.”
He added on an opening to the season which has seen the Foxes display commendable fighting spirit and a never-say-die attitude: “If you look at the players they have got, and watch the way they play, they are just really, really positive. They have positive-thinking players and they never know when they are beaten, and that’s the key. They have done really well when they have gone 1-0, 2-0 down, they have looked to get back into the game and always stayed positive, and that’s the key to it all – stay positive. And the forward players they have got, they are all positive-thinking players and are always looking to get on the ball and try to create and cause damage.”
Among that group of attacking talent is man of the moment, Jamie Vardy.
His story – one which has taken him from non-league football to the England squad and the brink of matching the Premier League record for netting in consecutive games – is truly a sporting fairytale and one which would appear to have many more chapters to come.
Taggart said of the 28-year-old frontman: “Frightening, absolutely frightening. Where he’s come from to now being on the brink of representing England in the Euros is absolutely phenomenal for the lad. Full credit to him, he fully deserves it. He’s always been a thorn in the side of defences at whatever level he’s played at, but one thing that has happened this season, his finishing has improved immensely and some of the goals he has tucked away this season have been top class.”
With Leicester able to do little wrong at present, have their ambitions – which would have been consolidation at the start of the season - changed?
Taggart said: “I don’t think you can get ahead of yourself. If and when they do get to 40 points, depending on at what stage of the season, then I think you have to reassess your goals. It’s one step at a time. I don’t think that goal should change now, purely because people start getting ahead of themselves. Yes, it’s a great start to the season, but how many teams have we seen in the past have great starts to the season and fall away? The focus has got to be 40 points, get there and then reassess. If and when that happens, then you take the shackles off and say let’s go for top 10 or top eight.”
There is, of course, the January transfer window on the horizon which could be used to aid their cause, but Taggart agrees that any additions will have to be carefully considered, with Leicester proving once again that stability and continuity can be just as profitable as big-money buys.
He added: “Exactly. It’s really important. It’s alright going to a chairman and saying I need this amount of money and I want to bring some players in, but if you don’t bring the right players in, you can upset the bonds that you have already got. You need to be really careful about making sure that when you have a settled squad, you don’t need to mess about with it too much. Yes, you’re always looking to improve, but that doesn’t mean that you go and spend on more players. They have to be careful that they have got a settled squad, things are going well, they are overachieving, punching above their weight, but just let it ride until the wheels come off, I suppose.”
That has to be the message being fed out by all of those connected with the club – enjoy the journey while it lasts, and if that happens to be through to the end of the campaign, with a possible European challenge thrown into the mix, all the better.
You only have to cast the mind back six years to recall how bad things can be – with the 2008/09 campaign spent in the third tier – so now is the time to revel in the warm glow of success and to embrace the plaudits for as long as they continue to rain down.
Watch the Vauxhall Home Nations Football Show with Ian Wright, Gerry Taggart, Kevin Gallacher and Iwan Roberts by subscribing to Vauxhall Football on YouTube here.