It’s silly season
“We are in the Champions League, man! Dilly-ding dilly-dong!” Not the words of a man trying to hide his light under a bushel. Claudio Ranieri has finally given in to the inevitability that Leicester are going to win the league, and rightly so. For so many months the Italian has been playing down Leicester’s hopes but he seems now to have accepted that the dream is becoming a reality. It’s not hard to see why. Regardless of the state of the league and the view that so many clubs have underperformed this season, The Foxes’ title run-in has been quite incredible. Nine wins out of the last 12 games have rendered even a resilient, exuberant Spurs side, hopeless in their pursuit. To turn in that type of form when the pressure has been well and truly on, has been nothing short of incredible and the Leicester fans know it. “Are you watching, Tottenham?” came the chant from the home crowd during Sunday’s victory over Swansea. Ranieri’s words this week not only portrayed a manager who believed in his team, they represented a whole club that has realised this fairytale is actually going to go beyond the stuff of myths and legends.
But, while the vast majority of us revel in the success that Leicester are enjoying,
there will be a few dissenting voices. The romance of the campaign seems to have grown to an extent that even rival Premier League managers can’t go unaffected . Countless managers, from Koeman to Pulis have lauded Leicester post-defeat and thrown their weight behind the club’s title hopes, with a seeming disregard for their own team losing. Francesco Guidolin became the latest manager to pay tribute this weekend. After his Swansea side produced a thoroughly insubstantial display that resulted in a 4-0 drubbing at the King Power stadium, the Italian commented, “Claudio is my friend and now I can say it, I hope Leicester go on and win the title because they deserve it. Leicester are a really strong team and they deserve to win the Premier League.” Now, no one is saying there is anything fishy about Swansea getting turned over in such a manner at Leicester. They have been in a poor run of form since practically assuring their safety and are well and truly on the beach. However, these such comments are the latest in a long line to come from managers openly supporting Leicester’s title bid and such a jovial attitude after defeat, must stick in the craw of Tottenham fans up and down the country. But post-match comments are not the reason Leicester are going to win the league. They might want to start making a scrapbook of these sweet-nothings though, as you can be sure as anything, next season they won’t be afforded the luxury of being the people’s champions – they will be the next scalp to take and everyone will be aiming to shoot them down.
Talking of shooting things down – Louis van Gaal. Logic should suggest that the Dutchman would have been at the least happy that his Man United team had overcome Everton to reach the FA Cup final. No such luck. Instead Van Gaal proceeded to launch a scathing attack on the officials rather than enjoying the celebrations with his players. “Referees are deciding the game, not the players,” remarked the United manager. “Everton came in the match because they get all the fouls,” he continued. Louis – you have just made it through to the FA Cup Final, for the love of God. Let it go. It takes some chip on the shoulder to overwhelm the immediate joy of such an occasion and switch straight onto berating the referee. Unfortunately, it looks like we could be in for another round of bitterness following the final in May. LvG’s opposite number on the day, Alan Pardew, has not been scared of criticising the officials over his career and the intensity of the Wembley occasion is likely to push these feelings to the forefront. Enjoy the football on the pitch while you can, because it is sure to be superseded by a bleating hard-luck story afterwards. Ah, the magic of the cup.