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How did Leicester pull off its fairy-tale season? All the other teams are bad.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

This is just my pet theory. But if Leicester beats Manchester United this Sunday to claim the Premier League title, capping a from-worst-to-first journey that may be unprecedented in the history of sports, it will be because Manchester United is terrible at soccer. I say this as an embarrassed—nay, ashamed—Manchester United supporter. It has no defense, no verve, no sense of identity. It has none of the qualities that used to define Manchester United, and yet it is bloated with expensive international stars. In these respects, it is like Chelsea and Manchester City. Arsenal, the last of the big four, remains a comparatively thrifty Arsene Wenger production, but all its panache is offset by an almost comical tendency toward self-destruction.

There is a reason the English teams, the most lucrative in the world, have lost ground to Spanish and German teams in the Champions League. There is a rot in English soccer, which has sacrificed coherent play for star power. It turns out that the key to winning the Premier League these days is a solid keeper, a strong defensive line, and a few long balls a game to strikers who know how to finish.