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Sam Should Aim To Replicate Ranieri's Principles

Belief is the key for Sunderland's survival, but only if it comes from the very top.

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Danny Simpson, Mark Albrighton and Danny Drinkwater are all regulars in a side that could - and should - win this year's Premier League title.

Although Leicester have been deservedly top of the division for most of the current season, many football fans across the country still can't get their heads around how their team is five points clear at the top of the table. Despite being the best side in England all year, people are still expecting them to throw away their lead at the top, even with time running out for that to happen.

Those players would have struggled to get into the majority of sides when the Premier League kicked off in August of last year, and the fact they've managed to win enough games and surge to the top of the pile is surely one of the most inspiring, motivating and ridiculous stories that there has ever been in the history of football.

It says alot about modern football, and Leicester City's success has done much to displace many of the common myths about what the formula is to having a winning side. Suddenly, spending fortunes on the best players just isn't enough.

Having drive, a winning mentality and an unbreakable team spirit is what won Alex Ferguson's Manchester United as many trophies as they did over such a massive period of time. If you played for him and his team, you were lucky to be there and anyone that didn't subscribe to his ethos and work ethic was quickly shipped out and forgotten about.

You either wanted to be the best, or you were gone. Simple.

Since Ferguson retired from club management in 2013 there seems to have been a widespread confusion amongst the so-called Premier League big-boys as to how you become better than every other club you are competing with. Ferguson's former club have tried to spend their way to success since he left and have failed miserably, whilst their inter-city rivals Manchester City look set to do the same this year, with the possibility of them failing to achieve Champions League football despite spending record amounts on players this year is very real.

And then there's Leicester.

What do Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Danny Simpson, Mark Albrighton and Danny Drinkwater have by the boatload that countless other professional footballers seemingly lack?

The will to win.

It's so basic and obvious that it frankly befuddles me that so many football managers choose to ignore it.

Claudio Ranieri has taught his players that regardless of ability, any one can win a game of football as long as you are prepared to invest in a set of principles that does not change, regardless of who you face.

Teams may well have more quality than you, but setting up to ensure you get the absolute best out of every single player that you've got is a far more efficient way of achieving results than setting up with the mentality that you have to negate everything that your opponents have. You might lose some, but if you do the best with what you've got then you'll surely win more than you don't win.

It's a bafflingly simple ethos, isn't it?

Sunderland - infact, Sam Allardyce - could do alot worse than to look at the path that Claudio Ranieri's Leicester City have taken and aim to replicate those same principles.

When you find that you are consistently leading in games, only to then go on to fail to take three points, your mentality and failure to believe in yourself must surely come into question. Sam Allardyce clearly feels that his side don't have it in them to see games out, when our strength is quite obviously in attacking teams. We are weak-minded and defensively average, so why do we always look to defend when ahead?

Sam has become obsessed with achieving clean sheets. It's all he talks about in his press conferences and interviews. Since he started talking about clean sheets, we've failed to keep any. Is the pressure of having to defend our leads becoming too much for both him and the players? It would seem that way.

If we go out to win games and kill teams off then we may well collect the amount of points required to survive between now and the end of the season. We struggle to defend, so why do we set ourselves up in a way that over-exposes our weaknesses? To me, it's fairly obvious.

We are now in a position where we must win the majority of our remaining games if we are to survive. Luckily for us, we have good attacking players and a centre forward who can't stop hitting the back of the net. Why not recognise what we are good at, and look to hurt our opposition?

Leicester City go out to take the maximum amount of points in every game that they play in and win almost every week. Their strengths lie in being efficient and working hard, and as a result they get far more out of their players than what they, logically, should.

Sam Allardyce needs to stop worrying about clean sheets and what the opposition can do to us and focus more on what we can do to them. If we really want to stay up, we will, but trying to defend behind the ball when leading in games is not something I'd consider a strength of ours.

I hope we aren't relegated as a result of failing to believe in ourselves on the pitch. We can take heart from Leicester's success - if you really want something enough, you will work over and above to achieve it.

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