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Sustaining Success in Football: Graeme Le Saux Weighs in on Blackburn Rovers vs Leicester City

In an exclusive YouTube interview, we were honored to chat with Graeme Le Saux, a football legend who knows a thing or two about defying odds. Having played a key role in Blackburn Rovers' miraculous Premier League title win in the 1994-95 season, Le Saux offered a keen perspective on the similar fairy tale story of Leicester City in 2015-16.


The Conundrum of Sustaining Success for Smaller Clubs


Le Saux didn't hold back on his views about the challenges smaller clubs face in retaining their top players after a season of success. "The smaller clubs are less likely to repeat their successes, so the best players tend to get picked off," he observed.


This is a statement that resonates deeply with both Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City, clubs that found it difficult to sustain their excellence following their respective Premier League wins. Both faced the daunting task of player retention in an environment where bigger clubs can easily lure away top talent.


The Role of Money in Football's Imbalance


"The only way really to keep that going, which is kind of unfair unfortunately, is money," Le Saux said, pointing out the stark reality that money often dictates a club's ability to compete at the highest level.


Le Saux emphasized how critical financial investment is, especially when you consider how clubs like Newcastle United have changed their fortunes through significant capital injections.


The Financial Constraints of Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers


Both Blackburn and Leicester City faced financial constraints that hindered them from retaining their best talents post-championship. Le Saux himself left Blackburn in 1997, mirroring a pattern seen with Leicester City when key players like N'Golo Kanté were sold (funnily, both Kante and Le Saux moved to Chelsea).


"It is very difficult to go again and recreate the success if you're a smaller club," Le Saux explained, "I think it relies on everyone peaking at the same time."


A Comparative Look: Blackburn and Leicester


Le Saux also drew a compelling comparison between the two clubs. "Where Leicester and Blackburn maybe are comparable is that some of those players were playing really above their ability and they just kept going. They had that wonderful spirit."


It was indeed a combination of team spirit and players performing above expectations that led to the historic achievements for both Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City. But as Le Saux cautioned, "Once you've succeeded, you can't then get rid of [certain] players. And we didn't sell maybe four or five players when we should have done, and equally, Leicester were very loyal to a group of players that weren't going to be able to play at that level again."


Conclusion


Graeme Le Saux's analysis presents a sobering look at the uphill battle smaller clubs like Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City face in the modern football landscape dominated by financial powerhouses.


"Football's going to have to change in the end because you can't just keep pouring more and more money into the top, expecting it to remain sustainable," warns Le Saux. His words serve as a cautionary tale for smaller clubs aiming for glory but also point to larger issues that need addressing for the future health of the sport.


To hear more of Le Saux’s insights, check out our interview on The LOAF Podcast YouTube channel.

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