• Victory against Everton will guarantee safety with a game to go • Allardyce desperate to avoid final-day drama at Watford
Some Sunderland supporters are already planning post-match parties on Wednesday night but Sam Allardyce has cautioned that his players may not find beating Everton quite as straightforward as advertised.
Victory against Roberto Martínez’s faltering yet still gifted side at the Stadium of Light would relegate Newcastle United and Norwich City while sealing the Wearside club’s Premier League safety.
• Manager says he will not get Newcastle and Norwich relegated • ‘We are all focused on the integrity of the competition’
Roberto Martínez has assured Newcastle United and Norwich City that Everton will not confirm their relegation by producing another feeble away display at Sunderland.
Sam Allardyce’s side can secure their Premier League status on Wednesday with victory over an Everton side that is without a win on the road since beating Aston Villa on 1 March and has faced 70 shots on goal in its last two away fixtures.
Answer a simple question and you could be off to Goodison Park to watch live Barclays Premier League football
The Guardian has teamed up with Barclays, proud sponsors of the Barclays Premier League, to give away a of pair tickets to Everton v Norwich City on Sunday 15 May, to thank one lucky home fan for the passion and support they show to their club.
• Steve Walsh and staff lining up additions for European campaign • ‘We are underdogs but we are dangerous,’ says Claudio Ranieri
If Christian Fuchs was running the risk of taking things a little too far when he gatecrashed the press conference after Leicester City’s 3-1 defeat of Everton and tipped a bottle of champagne over Claudio Ranieri’s head, the Austrian’s next act was much more in tune with his manager’s thinking, providing a straightforward response to the question of whether this remarkable team can stay together. “Listen, we’re playing Champions League football next season,” Fuchs said. “Isn’t that a good enough reason to stay at this club? I think all the lads know what this team is all about. So why not stay?”
• Under-pressure manager says 21-year-old was the only player with desire • Limp defeat at Leicester means Martínez’s future looks increasingly bleak
Roberto Martínez’s future at Everton appears increasingly bleak and issued a damning assessment of his team’s latest woeful performance byhe admitting that Matthew Pennington, a 21-year-old academy graduate who was recently recalled from a loan spell at Walsall, was the only player to emerge from the 3-1 defeat at Leicester with his reputation intact.
Well, what a day. A day that will be remembered for a long, long time by Leicester City fans who were there to witness the moment that Wes Morgan lifted the Premier League trophy. Actually, scratch that. It’s a day that will be remembered by anyone who saw it. The proof that Leicester City are champions of England after a 132-year wait. I’m going to wrap up now but thanks for all your emails and tweets. Unlike Jamie Vardy, I’m not having a party. But if you are, enjoy it. You can read Barney Ronay’s take on the Leicester City coronation here shortly. Bye.
Vineet Pullan asks what must be going through the head of Esteban Cambiasso, who the club desperately tried to keep last season but who chose to leave for Champions League football with Olympiakos. He probably did the club a favour Vineet. Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante have been all right haven’t they?
Claudio Ranieri lauds Leicester’s consistency. He looks completely in control of his emotions and focused. “ I tried to blend the Italian mentality and tactics but at the beginning it was not like that … and then I pay them pizza,” he chuckles. He says he never believed Leicester could make the top six but all the time they kept looking to set new targets. On when he felt Leicester could be champions, he says he thought the victory over Manchester City was the moment, although he was worried when Arsenal beat them at the Emirates. On next season he says: “The people are dreaming. Keep dreaming.”
“I’m emotionally drained. I had to hold back the tears. I held them back, finally lifted the trophy and it was the best feeling in the world,” says Leicester’s captain, Wes Morgan. “There’s no better feeling knowing you are champions of England. I want to enjoy the moment. It’s the best time of my life. It’s like a dream.”
On when Leicester knew they could win the league he says: “We’ve always believed. We’d played all the teams and we knew on our day we were as good if not better than all the teams around us. We are such a tight group of players. There are no egos. Champions League? I don’t know what that feels like. Woooooooo!” he roars.
The Leicester players are slowly making their way around the pitch, many with babies and toddlers in their arms. Maybe this day will be their first memory. What a first memory to have.
“What is on display is humility, not the brash ‘big club’ we-are-number-one when Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea won it. That’s really special. Thanks to Ranieri and Leicester,” writes Johnny Peace. That humility is being echoed by the reaction of their fans who, among the celebratory songs, are also chanting: “We were here when we were shit!”
Kasper Schmeichel, who joins his dad, Peter, in winning the Premier League title, speaks: “ We can’t quite believe we’re standing here. It’s a beautiful trophy. It was hard knowing we were going to be presented with the trophy after the game but we were brilliant.” Yes, you were.
The trophy is being paraded around the stadium by the owners. Come on, give it back to the players and manager will you. Don’t hog it.
“Leicester is Lovely” is the motto I was brought up with by my wonderful 89-year-old dad who was born and bred in Leicester! Had the privilege to live and work in the city. What this means to its people is unimaginable! Well done!” trills Mandy Stewart.
The trophy makes its way around to Morgan again … and then it is passed to Ranieri, who looks slightly overcome by the enormity of the moment. Enjoy it Claudio. He then wanders off to acknowledge the crowd and drink in the atmosphere.
The King Power stadium is awash with noise as the trophy is passed down the line of players. Riyad Mahrez glances down at his medal just to check it’s still there. It is. Don’t worry Riyad.
Wes Morgan lets out a huge roar and hoists the trophy into the evening air. What a moment. What a season. It is real!
And here are the Leicester players! The champions of England. Yes, the champions of England. Each player is being presented with their winners’ medals and gathering on a little platform ready to receive the trophy. The captain, Wes Morgan, receives his medal last to a huge roar from the Leicester crowd. He looks genuinely humbled. The rain has stopped too. Well, it had to didn’t it? This is a fairytale after all.
Now it’s Claudio Ranierio! He points to all four sides of the King Power Stadium and then pumps his right fist as he emerges from the tunnel. He shakes every Leicester mascots’ hand as he makes his way towards the presentation area.
And now here’s the Premier League trophy. Leicester legend Alan Birchenall brings it out.
Leicester are led back on to the pitch by their Thai owners, who applaud the Leicester fans, who continue to serenade their champions.
Vardy pulled up just before the end of the match clutching his left hamstring. He allayed fears of any Euro 2016 injury concerns by saying he thought it was cramp. We’ll see.
The coronation is just minutes away. Here’s what we can expect. Wes Morgan will be handed the Premier League trophy decorated with ribbons of blue and yellow – representing the club’s colours and those of Thailand’s royal house – by lifelong fan Steve Worthy, a part-time happy hardcore DJ. Why you ask? Because he won a competition organised by Barclays and he is dedicating the experience to his 97-year-old grandmother Gladys Kenny, who was the oldest season-ticket holder at the King Power, but had to retire her ticket before this most crazy of seasons due to ill health. It’s fitting. Leicester’s brand of football could be described as happy hardcore.
“When I hand the Premier League trophy to Wes Morgan I’ll be thinking of my grandmother,” he said. “She’s been a Leicester City fan since 1949 but has had to miss out on our most incredible season yet because she’s not well enough to attend games. For Barclays to give our family this amazing opportunity means so much and I’m hoping my grandmother will be able to join us at the King Power Stadium to experience the big moment.” Gladys is at the game I believe.
Oh the romance. It seems Leicester are going to lift the trophy in next season’s kit.
Jamie Vardy has just lifted himself off the turf to be interviewed. “We had a little celebration on Monday but we were on it today.” On the penalty miss he says: “My ball ended up inside someone’s back garden, I think.” On his remarkable rise: “It’s been a very, very long and hard journey to get where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without my friends and family.”
What a wonderful way to see out a remarkable season. This was a performance peppered with everything that has made Leicester such a fascinating, surprising and thrilling team to watch this season. They were so dominant.
90+3 min: Campeones sing the Leicester fans. Not long till trophy time.
90 min: Mahrez gets a rousing ovation as he is replaced by Demarai Gray. His unpredictable brilliance has been such a key part of Leicester’s success. Further reading here …
There’ll be no pizza tonight. Mirallas makes the most of Leicester’s high line by sprinting on to a ball behind Kante, shrugging the France international off the ball and working his way into the box. He turns one way to beat Wasilewski, gets a lucky break as he turns the other way and watches the ball land at his feet after taking a deflection, and then sidefoots calmly past Schmeichel. Good finish. Not that it matters.
86 min: Robles continues to be the busiest Everton player on the pitch. He stops Ulloa and then Vardy before Everton break …
84 min: Ritchie De Laet, who won promotion with Middlesbrough earlier today, has made it down to Leicester to watch his parent club. He qualifies for a Premier League winners’ medal, having made 12 league appearances for Leicester earlier in the season. What a day for him. Is that a first? Winning promotion and the Premier League on the same day?
82 min: Fuchs drifts it in towards the penalty spot. King leaps and heads it towards the back post but it runs out of play.
81 min: Schlupp burst into the box on the left and wins another corner for Leicester.
79 min: Leicester continue to toy with Everton. Ulloa goes close again, rising to reach a Mahrez cross, but heading narrowly over. Leon Osman is on for Barkley as Everton try to stem the tide.
77 min: “Yeah, as you mentioned earlier it shouldn’t be lost in this ass-whooping what a shower Everton is,” writes JR in Illinois. “I’m just waiting to see if Martinez is going to maintain that his team is phenomenal when he’s giving his exit interview.” He’ll not enjoy the chants from the away end. “Roberto Martinez get out of our club,” sing the Everton fans.
74 min: Leicester are rampant here. Wave after wave of attack is threatening to eat make this a harrowing occasion for Everton. Well, an even more harrowing experience I should say. Ulloa heads narrowly over after a corner on the left.
72 min: Well, with the chance to join Harry Kane on 25 goals, he skies this. Up, up, up and away. Oh Jamie!
71 min: Schlupp is felled by Gibson. A clearer penalty you’ll not see all weekend. Vardy steps up for his hat-trick. Could this be the Hollywood script finale?
68 min: Vardy is denied a hat-trick after being sent clear by Mahrez with not an Everton defender within five yards of him. He runs slightly wide of goal and tries to slot the ball past Robles, who makes a fine stop with his right foot. Robles has been by far Everton’s best player – and he’s conceded three.
67 min: Schlupp replaces Albrighton. Vardy leads the cheers and applause for the former Aston Villa winger.
The Leicester striker hammers the ball with his right foot to the right of Robles. It’s nowhere near the corner but it’s hit so hard it doesn’t matter. He gives Robles some lip as he jogs past in celebration. That’s his 24th of the season. What a season. What a late-career flourish.
65 min: Pennington catches Vardy’s left heel. It’s a clear penalty. Vardy dusts himself off and prepares to take it.
62 min: It’s substitution time. The Japanese Dirk Kuyt, Okazaki, is replaced by Ulloa. Applause all round for both players it seems. And then Mirallas and Gibson replace Cleverly and Niasse.
60 min: Leicester are starting to dominate again. Robles stretches out his right foot to deny Fuchs, who had been sent clear by Mahrez. He probably took that too early.
57 min: Everton win a corner after some diligent pressing from Cleverly. Oviedo knocks it in deep. Stones wins the header and directs it towards Lukaku, on the edge of the six-yard box who, in turn, nods it instinctively at goal only to see Schmeichel palm it away.
54 min: Vardy goes on a little scamper down the left, dropping his shoulder and whipping an inviting ball into the near-post that Robles does ever so well to gather when Okazaki was lurking.
52 min: But Fuchs’ walloper of a left foot sends the ball whistling towards Filbert Way.
51 min: After a low-key start to the second half, Leicester have found their groove again. Mahrez is fouled 25 yards from goal. Christian Fuchs and his walloper of a left foot stand over it.
48 min: The crowd are ever so slightly less raucous this half. Perhaps the headaches are kicking in. “My favourite Leicester moment of the season could well be this very match if they continue to dominate it like this,” writes Michael Cosgrove. “They’ve won the Premier League, they’re on cloud nine, and this match is proving to be the best possible way of celebrating it in their own inimitable, generous and classy style. Their fans must be over the moon with delight!” I’ll ignore the cliches Michael and just enjoy your jubilation.
45 min: Everton have two fine chances at the beginning of the second half. First, Niasse exposes Leicester’s line, which is uncharacteristically high, and tries, but fails, to lob Schmeichel … and then Lukaku tries to divert the ball in with a backheel after a scrappy bit of defending in the six-yard box.
Just to break off from the Leicester City procession towards their coronation for a moment, how disappointing has this season been from Everton? Much is made of the current group of players being among the most talented for many years but the results don’t stack up. Is Martínez’s naivety to blame or are the players not as good as their billing? Or what about a combination of both? Talented footballers don’t necessarily make for effective footballers. Call it David Luiz syndrome or something.
Whichever team turned up to face Leicester in this game, you felt they could only lose, even if they won.
@GreggBakowski Full credit to Everton…for not ruining the party. Bravo!
Yeah, he’s enjoying himself.
Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, you must be quaking in your Champions League boots.
45 min: Mahrez heads over at the end of a first half that has been a celebration of Leicester’s football as much as their Premier League champions’ status.
42 min: Everton have been effective up to the final third at times but it all tends to break down there. They get numbers forwards but that is just playing into Leicester’s hands. One such break leads to Mahrez being dragged down by Pennington. The Everton defender is booked as a result. It was a crisp counter in which Okazaki played a lovely ball, showing swift feet to send Mahrez away through the middle.
40 min: Wes Morgan stretches his hulking frame towards a cross at the back post in an attempt to divert it into the far corner but the ball in by Albrighton is too deep and presents too much of a challenge even for Leicester’s combative captain.
39 min: Charles Antaki has got in touch with a missive entitled Bald Man. “Pleasing to see tradition being respected, and the director getting the camera to pick up a spectator in deep slumber, surrounded by wildly cheering neighbours. And as a bonus, he’s fat and bald. And for extra TV gold, another gent leans over and makes an ostentatious show of kissing him repeatedly on the pate.”
37 min: Leicester win a couple of corners and are threatening to run away with this. The pressure being lifted off the champions has resulted in early-season-fun-football Leicester re-emerging. I like that team. That’s not to say the late-season stingy Leicester weren’t highly impressive mind.
35 min: Ranieri, stood in the rain on the touchline, could be a manager watching his team getting relegated such is his sodden state. There are no satisfied grins, just studied concentration.
Well what a lovely moment this is for King. Mahrez gathers the ball on the right and approaches the box with intent, doing one, two, three stepovers at blink-and-you-miss-it pace, before drawing a tackle from Baines that diverts the ball into King’s path. The one-club man says “thank you very much” and sidefoots home from 10 yards.
28 min: It’s been raining hard for the past 10 minutes at the King Power. As a result the turf, that has been given a creative mowing once again by John Ledwidge, is as slick as a Teddy Boy’s hairdo. Kante has a crack from 25 yards that dips wickedly in front of Robles, who can only parry it out towards Okazaki. But the Everton keeper is quick to react and gets to the ball a millisecond before the Japan striker.
26 min: Everton have had a busy few moments. Baines whips a lovely ball in towards Lukaku, who is just inches away from connecting with it. Schmeichel gathers but any touch from Lukaku would have taken it whistling past the Leicester keeper.
24 min: “Hi Gregg,” begins Mark Elliott. “As a Leicester fan the whole season is incredibly special. Favourite moment, I agree about Man City, but the Vardy goal v Liverpool in the previous game was pretty wonderful. Plus I thought you would appreciate it.” It was a mishit Mark.
21 min: Every Leicester touch is being serenaded. Mahrez brings his skills to the party, does a lollipop or two and feeds Simpson on the right. The rampaging right-back dinks cross into the box but it’s just too high for Okazaki.
@greggbakowski This feels like one of those World Cup group games where one team has qualified after to matches and the other is already out
19 min: I may have said Andy King was born in Leicester earlier. He was actually born in Barnstaple. I was only around 300 miles wrong.
17 min: These are heady days indeed. Wes Morgan drops his shoulder on the left and drifts inside. The crowd implore him to shoot as he enters the area but he plays a square pass instead. It’s not a very good one either. Oh Wes.
14 min: “Ranieri’s genius comes from spotting a weakness in the way footy is played in the Prem,” begins Mark Turner. “He saw that creating a wall defence and hit rapidly on the counter (or in other words, minimal midfield) would destabilise plenty of the upper echelon teams. Then came the 180° strategy change that turned the Foxes into Atlético Madrid in the run-in (which was, incidentally, very similar to the way Nottingham Forest consolidated their championship team and went on to win the European Cup). One of the best marks of insight genius is when people come around afterwards and say things like, “So easy! I could have come up with that!” etc.” Yeah, it was so easy I could have come up with it Mark. Oh.
11 min: This is like watching a match played out in front of Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage. There are bells jingling, incessant, joyous songs and probably more than a few dances going on. One of which, has just been performed by Okazaki, whose toes twinkle as he escapes his marker in midfield and releases the ball to set up an attack that almost ends with Fuchs getting a clean shot on goal, but for Lennon’s block.
9 min: King ghosts in at the back post to connect with a Mahrez cross but his header is straight at Robles. What times these must be for one-club man Andy King. I’m guessing he could be fed and watered for free every time he steps out of his house.
8 min: That was fine anticipation from Vardy there. He timed his run to perfection and gave neither Oviedo nor Stones any chance to catch him on the turn.
Well, that didn’t take long. And it’s a simple but lovely goal. Mahrez takes a short throw-in to King. He dinks a delicious little ball into the space between Oviedo and Stones, just outside the six-yard box, where Vardy is haring in to help the ball past Robles into the corner with the outside of his boot. “Jamie Vardy’s having a party!” sing Leicester’s fans. Again. And again.
4 min: Albrighton, who has been an energetic, creative menace for Leicester all season, floats a ball in towards Vardy from the left but it’s a tad overjuiced.
.@greggbakowski In Premier League history (or of sport even) when have so many ppl ever wanted to watch such a "meaningless" game? #LeiEve
2 min: Everton see a fair bit of the ball early on. Andy King snaps into a tackle with Leighton Baines and shows that Leicester aren’t just here for the trophy. Here’s Andrew Benton: “I think that Ranieri’s success with Leicester goes way beyond football – his is an example of how growing what you have, and building a working-together culture, can really work. It should be in all the MBA course textbooks. I say ‘No’ to top-down boss styles!”
1 min: We’re underway. Leicester City, the champions of England, are shooting from left to right on my TV. Everton, in white, are going the other way. My picture is bouncing, such is the atmosphere at the King Power.
The Everton players have emerged on to the turf at the King Power and formed a guard of honour to welcome the champions on to the pitch. Here they come. “Campiones!” belt out the Leicester fans as their heroes stride out. You could run the city of Leicester on the electricity being generated at the King Power. It’s crackling.
“Evening Gregg,” begins Simon McMahon. “I think part of the reason why Leicester’s title win has been so warmly received is that it harks back to an era when a small provincial club, like say Nottingham Forest or Dundee United, with a team of hard working professionals, a bit of flair and a maverick manager, was capable of dreaming and achieving great things. In today’s world that just didn’t seem possible before this season. You would need a heart of stone not have a tear in your eye when Leicester lift that trophy after the match. Or now for that matter, watching Ranieri and Bocelli.”
There’s a sea of blue and white flags, banners and scarves flapping around in the wind at the King Power as Bocelli takes his tonsils to the limit before winding up with a flashy flourish. It’s quite a sight. Highly emotive. There’s going to be some football now too. Let’s not forget that.
Bocelli then launches into Time To Say Goodbye. Steady Andrea. Don’t kill the buzz.
Bocelli belts out Nessun Dorma, getting a huge roar from the crowd as he whips off his jacket and unveils a Leicester shirt underneath it. Ranieri watches on like a proud but dutiful uncle. Holding his hand up to tell the crowd to pipe down when they get excited and start to sing themselves. Lovely stuff.
Claudio Ranieri has just been greeted on to the pitch by a huge roar as he walks on, arm in arm, with Andrea Bocelli. Ranieri is trying to get the crowd to stop singing so Bocelli can use his own voice.“We are champions because of your push,” he says to the jubilant Leicester fans.
Someone has tweeted me to say the fans in the pictures below look like glory-hunters. Oh pipe down will you. This supporter has brought proof that he’s been a Leicester supporter for many, many years. He’s attached a picture of his younger self attending Carlisle v Leicester in 1970. I hope he gets a ticket. Some Evertonians have very generously donated theirs to Leicester fans. Maybe he’ll get lucky.
Here’s a story about a former Leicester City player that I’ll fill a few minutes with, if you’ll allow me to indulge. Well, you don’t have a choice so here I go: I know someone who went to university in Leicester and he used to DJ at a club that Pegguy Arphexad regularly busted some moves at. He was quite the character by all accounts. Anyway, they became loose acquaintances. One day my friend heard a knock at the door of his shared house. It was just before 6pm on a weekday night. Who was at the door? Pegguy Arphexad. When he asked him what he wanted, he asked if he could come in to watch The Simpsons because his telly was broken. He then lay on the sofa and belly-laughed his way through an episode before promptly leaving at 6.30pm. There you go.
Claudio Ranieri isn’t about to let standards drop around the King Power Stadium this evening. He expects his players to put in a performance worthy of their status as champions. “I will kill them with my hands [if they lose],” said Ranieri. Steady on Claudio. “Good, they enjoy [themselves] of course but they train very well and we want to make a very good match also on Saturday against Everton. It is important to clean our minds and keep going with our jobs. This is very sweet but our job is to play. Of course there will be a good match for us, now we are champions but Everton want to beat us so it is right to put our mind on the job.”
The streets of Leicester are awash with blue. Supporters, who want to witness the moment their team lifts the English top-flight trophy for the first time in the club’s 132-year history, have been partying since Monday night and they’ve ramped it up again as the match against Everton nears.
These are the moments Leicester City’s supporters will never want to forget. They had pined for this day and after all the emotion at the start, the dewy-eyed speech from Claudio Ranieri and the guard of honour that ushered them on to the pitch, this wonderfully enthused collection of unlikely heroes quickly set about showing everyone why they now go by the title of champions of England.
Their only minor disappointment, in all the colour and euphoria, is that Jamie Vardy did not manage a hat-trick to nab the ball as a souvenir and move alongside Harry Kane as the Premier League’s leading scorer. Vardy’s penalty miss felt incongruous to the story of this match, especially as he had scored one eight minutes earlier, but it did not dampen the party too much and it probably sums up the mood that the crowd had been singing for Kasper Schmeichel, the goalkeeper, to take it anyway.
The streets of Leicester are awash with blue. Supporters, who want to witness the moment their team lifts the English top-flight trophy for the first time in the club’s 132-year history, have been partying since Monday night and they’ve ramped it up again as the match against Everton nears.
• Spaniard was subject to abuse when walking with wife • I respect every fan’s opinion, Martínez adds
Roberto Martínez has said being the target of angry protests at Everton will not distract him from the task of correcting this season’s failings at Goodison Park.
The manager was subjected to abuse as he walked to his car with his wife, Beth, following the 2-1 win over Bournemouth last Saturday, their first win in eight games. Martínez has faced calls for his removal at several matches recently but insisted vitriol will not prompt him to walk away. “When you are Everton manager, you are in a position where you have to take responsibility and I do that for our performances and results,” he said in response to last week’s protests.
Last term this was Leicester’s first fixture back after 10 years’ absence and they had only four men with top-flight experience. This time Everton will give the new champions a guard of honour, free beer and pizza vouchers will be given to home fans and the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will serenade them as the party goes on. Matty James stands by for a first appearance of the season. Mark Tallentire
Leicester City’s big homecoming, Andy Carroll facing his favourite prey, and Newcastle fans getting a chance to avenge their trip to Villa in 2008-09
Spare a thought this week for Ritchie De Laet, who must feel a little like Michael Collins, the astronaut who accompanied Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 mission but had to stay in the shuttle while they pranced around the moon. Still, at least Collins got to go to space: De Laet went to Middlesbrough. Then again, if Boro beat or draw with Brighton on Saturday the Belgian will achieve promotion to the Premier League in the same season as he won it, which is a feat that demands respect even if he would no doubt have preferred to have continued playing for Leicester rather than depart on loan in February. De Laet joined Leicester from Manchester United back in 2012 on the same day as Matty James made the same move. James has not played this season due to a serious knee injury but there is a chance that he will be fit enough to feature against Everton – and what a heartening moment his reappearance would be, along with many others scheduled for the King Power on Saturday. PD