Leicester, eh?

Not that I give a toss about football but there’s something very English about celebrating the underdog winning.

Well done there, well done.

40 thoughts on “Leicester, eh?”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    I was wondering last night how many Leicester based Man Utd fans suddenly changed allegiance?

    The city is on a bit of a roll, the lad who won the snooker is from Leicester and the rugby club are in the European Challenge Cup final and the Premiership semi-final.

  2. “there’s something very English about celebrating the underdog winning”

    Which is why I always thought Norman Tebbit’s “who do you support at cricket?” test of nationality was a load of bollocks. The correct answer should have been “the weaker team” rather than “England”.

    Admittedly, they were synonymous 90% of the time back then.

  3. Not to mention that the cricket team appear to have sorted themselves out after three years of propping up the foot of the county championship.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    It makes you wonder what makes for a great team. It isn’t salaries. I assume that the Thai billionaire is slightly outspent by the Russian oligarchs and American venture capitalists at other clubs.

    I would assume this is down to the coach and just a team coming together. It must be something. A one-off win, like the Greek national team in the 2004 UEFA cup is one thing, but a sustained campaign is another.

    Probably the best sports memoir ever written is The Game by a Canadian hockey player Ken Dryden:


    A significant part of it is about players from a winning team all going their separate ways and the team spirit declining. So next year will be interesting for them and I hope, but doubt, a memoir worth reading will come out of it.

  5. Indeed, it is a great achievement, probably surpassing Greece’s win in Euro 2004. Shame Keith fucking Vaz has leaped on the bandwagon, though.

  6. Actually the evidence oven years shows that, whilst transfer fees show little correlation with league success, salaries have had an enormous correlation.

    The English Premier League.os.now so awash with money though that even mod – table tes (we’ll have to stop using that phrase) are able to outbid the top European teams. For example Stoke City now has a higher turnover than Internazionale of Milano. So the big luvs coming back from hard European mates are running gni to top quality, highly motivated opposition.

  7. Tim Newman

    I’m hoping someone motivated enough with time on their hands can airbrush the guy out of any pictures of the Foxes triumph – what an odious figure….

  8. Thought it a bit rich for Chelsea fans to be chanting Ranieri’s name last night seeing as how he was treated like shit by them. I’m half expecting John Terry to show up in full Chelsea kit at the Premier League trophy presentation at Leicester.

  9. SMFS

    I agree. We see the same here with Atlético de Madrid. El Cholo Simeone has forged a fighting unit out of good to great but not star players.

    They are truly well organised, disciplined and fast on the break.

    They, like Leicester ,line up 8 in two lines across the box and challenge you to try and break them down. You can have the ball as long as you don’t come near my goalie, seems to be the theme. Torres despite his age has regained his killer instinct and is a pleasure to watch. How about that? Hadn’t we all written him off? It’s the Cholo effect.

    Atlético play the return against Pep’s Bayern tonight, one to watch. In Bilbao, we remember Simeone for his tough uncompromising winner takes all macho attitude which included leaving half-inch deep stud punch marks on our then darling boy, Julen Guerrero’s thigh by stamping on him when he was down.

    Have come to admire the bugger since then.

    In other news, Pep is effing us around at Athletic Bilbao by getting Man City to put up the €50,000,000 for Aymeric Laporte. Good lad (although always aware of his talent -:)), great player. Used to go to the same school as my kids and still despite his ‘status’ hangs around with his old mates.

    At thsi rate, with flogging off Martinez to Bayern, Herrera to Man Utd and Laporte to Man City we are going to be the club with the healthiest balance sheet in Europe.

  10. The Inimitable Steve

    Absolutely wonderful. And yes, this is a much greater achievement than Greece’s 2004 European Cup win. It’s more like a Roy of the Rovers strip come to life.

    They were 5,000-1 outsiders at the start of the season. If this was the script for a film, you’d dismiss it as being too implausible even for a sports movie.

    Bloody marvellous.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    I am not sure that money speaks. How much do the Spanish pay out? Their football is clearly the best in Europe at the moment. How much do the Italians pay out?

    If you look at the UEFA Cup, the best players do not usually play for British clubs:

    1 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United, Real Madrid
    2 Lionel Messi Barcelona
    3 Raúl Real Madrid, Schalke 04
    4 Ruud van Nistelrooy PSV, Manchester United, Real Madrid
    5 Thierry Henry Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona
    6 Alfredo Di Stéfano Real Madrid
    7 Andriy Shevchenko Dynamo Kyiv, Milan, Chelsea
    7 Zlatan Ibrahimović Ajax, Juventus, Internazionale, Barcelona, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain
    9 Eusébio Benfica
    9 Karim Benzema Lyon, Real Madrid
    9 Filippo Inzaghi

    So Ronaldo, RVN and Shevchenko is something. But it isn’t as much as you would think.

    As for the clubs, let’s assume that the money started to flow into British football after Liverpool’s 1983-84 victory over Roma. Since then we have had 30 odd years of games. British clubs have won 1998-99 (Man U), 2004-05 (Liverpool), 2007-08 (Man U), and 2011-12 (Chelsea).

    So all British clubs combined have won fewer than Barcelona. Which admittedly is a very high spending club.

    The odd question is why English clubs won every year from 1976 to 1984 with the exception of once. That wasn’t money.

    I would put it down to the coach and the team spirit. I bet the Greeks are sorry they fired Ranieri now.

  12. SMFS,

    Salaries do matter. This Cinderella Story media narrative misses the fact that these players are turning up to the ground in Lamborghinis. OK, they only spent £50m on salaries rather than £200m that Man City spent, but that’s still what, a couple of million a year each. That’s still classy players.

    But yes, it’s about management. It’s about finding that midfielder and striker that *click*, that seem to get what the other is doing and working with that. It often delivers far better results than 2 brilliant players that don’t work together. It’s why the Greeks won Euro 2004. They didn’t have anyone as flashy as Beckham, but when a guy passed a ball, there was another guy waiting for it.

  13. “The city is on a bit of a roll, the lad who won the snooker is from Leicester and the rugby club are in the European Challenge Cup final”

    No. They lost to racing the European Champions Cup in the semi-final. The final is Saracens Vs Racing Metro.

  14. I read this morning that Leicester are 25:1 to win the title next season and 16:1 to be relegated. Must be the first time the champions have shorter odds to be relegated than retain the title.

  15. It has never ceased to amaze me that football clubs appear to spent hundreds of millions on players that they appear to have never actually seen play, or at least analysed what style of player they are, and what style of team they play in, and whether they would fit in with the existing players. Classic example – Andy Carroll. Carroll was banging in goals for Newcastle on the basis of being the big man up front who everyone pumped the ball up to and provided crosses into the box for. Liverpool pay £35m (£35m!!!) for this ‘proven goal scorer’ and then try to get him to play in their more cultured passing, keep the ball on the floor style. They’d just sold Torres for fucks sake, it was hardly a like for like swap. It was never going to work. They’d have been better off buying Charlie Austin from Burnley (at the time), a proven proper goalscorer who would have fitted well into Liverpools teams. Indeed in the old days thats exactly what Div 1 teams did – buy good players from lower league teams and bring them on. Ian Rush came to Liverpool from Chester City, Bryan Robson came to Man U from West Brom, Kevin Keegan started at Scunthorpe.

    Its appears that the big clubs now just throw money at foreign purchases in the hope that by scattergun luck someone will turn out to be an Henry, a Suarez, a Ronaldo.

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    The Stigler – “Salaries do matter.”

    Well at some level, sure. If we were back in the days when Vinnie Jones needed to work on a building site to pay for his captaincy the club would be screwed.

    This is the Money Ball question – what makes for a good team? I am not sure that the people who run the game know. They assume it is about salaries but is it? This may be a freak of nature but I hope the serious men are looking at the figures and trying to work out what it is.

    How do you quantify the joy of working with a player like this, for instance:


    The amazing thing is that he *is* such a great player he can get away with it. But the day his game starts falling off, there is going to be a reckoning I think.

  17. And yes, this is a much greater achievement than Greece’s 2004 European Cup win.

    Surely the greatest Euro win was Denmark in 1992. Considering that they didn’t even qualify, it was pretty remarkable.(For those of you clearly too young to remember, they were called in two weeks before the tournament because Yugoslavia were disqualified.)

  18. Maybe this is a Black Swan Event. Note the attempts at rationalisation by hindsight.

    Anyway my limited retrospective rationalisation, being not anything of a football watcher, is to just wonder if some early luck got the team on a roll. This seeing as being on a roll can make an immense difference.

    Does positive feedback from contribution of being on a roll, and/or encouragement of the underdog, invalidate the Black Swan interpretation?

    Best regards

  19. Bloke in North Dorset


    The money started flowing when Sky launched and used football to grab subscriptions. Now BT Sport has launched they are using it to kick back at Sky’s approach of using cheap broadband as part of their customer retention strategy and there’s even more money flowing.

  20. Bloke no Longer on the Terraces

    SMFS is comparing apples and oranges above.

    Real money in English football came about with Sky and the revolution of the Premier League ( literally the lunatics taking over the asylum and emasculating the FA).
    It meant that to many managers, winning a European Cup was secondary. Just being in Europe and collecting the cash was a sufficient goal. Of course one then ends up like Pocchetino, after surrendering to Dortmund in order to concentrate on the League, he has won nothing (still great achievement for Spurs, they’re a very exciting side).
    Furthermore, the Champions League is a competition biased to the teams with big squads who can afford to rotate and rest players. There are huge gulfs between the higher and lower echelons in the Continental leagues. As Liverpool showed on Sunday, put up a B-team in the Premier League and you get your arse kicked.

    Also don’t forget that thanks to the Scousers, English clubs were banned from European competition between 1985-90.

  21. “Maybe this is a Black Swan Event. Note the attempts at rationalisation by hindsight.”

    No. Simply because it’s hard to make any sense out of what Taleb says.

    And getting on a roll early on isn’t the explanation either.

    Watching Leicester play this season, compared to Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Man U, who all have greatly talented players, seemed to me to show that a lot of it was down to the hunger and desire of the players. Too many players on the big teams just don’t care enough, they’re soft and they lack on-field leaders. That’s also why I knew Tottenham would rise up and up during the season — they were so fierce and competive.

  22. Bloke no longer on the Terraces

    An aside:
    I was at Heysel and remember it like it was yesterday; it was Hell on Earth. And yes, the ban was a direct result of that night. And yes, scousers had to live with the shame of what could have happened to or beem caused by any set of fans at the time.

    And it was that view that fans were all scum that led to the disaster of planning that caused Hilborough. And it was that view of fans, particularly scousers that lead to those fans and the city being traduced on the aftermath.

    At the moment Liverpool is drunk on its own wonderfulness, “they picked on the wrong city ” we’re shouting. Not true! Liverpool and it’s people can no more claim to be special because of Hilborough than it should be vilified for Heysel.

    That said, I say a prayer each year on the anniversary of Heysel. It is a solitary prayer; no Andy Burnham to keep me company, no Bishop of Liverpool.

  23. The Inimitable Steve

    Chester – Even that.

    Denmark’s Euro 92 win and Greece’s 04 win were amazing achievements, but in a cup competition the underdogs generally have more of a chance of surprising people: squad restrictions plus lower number of matches plus the knockout format.

    To wildly exceed expectations across 36 games of domestic football is a tougher ask. The mental resilience Leicester showed all season is incredible, you’d think they were managed by Paul McKenna.

    This sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen outside computer games like Football Manager.

  24. Bloke no Longer on the Terraces

    Ironman, I am of course speaking as an embittered Wimbledon supporter, denied his trip to IFK Norrköping by the ban.

  25. Surely the greatest Euro win was Denmark in 1992. Considering that they didn’t even qualify, it was pretty remarkable.

    I dunno. In hindsight they had Schmeichal and the Laudrups. Who did the Greeks have?

  26. Bloke no Longer on the Terraces

    Tim, the Danes didn’t even have the Laudrups or Jan Molby. They were “on strike” from the national side at the time.

  27. ““there’s something very English about celebrating the underdog winning”: and that’s true of all the other countries in which celebrating the underdog winning happens, eh?

  28. Tim, the Danes didn’t even have the Laudrups or Jan Molby. They were “on strike” from the national side at the time.

    Oh, okay. I stand corrected!

  29. Tim Newman

    Actually Michael Laudrup and Jan Molby refused to play (me meither). So they had John Jenson instead to score that amazing goal against the Germans. What a guy!!

  30. Pochettino threw a Europa League tie to concentrate on the League, not a Champions League game. Big difference.

    Hardly anyone wants to qualify for the Europa League. Too many games against crap opposition, and on Thursdays to boot, so they end up having to play league games on Sunday.

  31. According to the QI Elves on Twitter, Man U have spent more on players in the last 2 years than Leicesetr City have in their >100 year history.

    With that in mind I trust everyone will be backing Palace to beat Utd in the FA Cup final, to complete an underdoggy season.

  32. TomJ

    I think tjat’s the point on salaries and transfer fees. The transfer fee shows the value the buying club places on a player – bollocks. The salary shows the value his agent places on him. Funny that the agent seems to get it right more often than the club.

  33. “Hardly anyone wants to qualify for the Europa League.”

    They didn’t put sufficient effort into the name. The Europa Super League Championship of Champion Champions would have them queuing round the block.

  34. The Inimitable Steve,

    True – cup competitions have greater randomness to them, but I remember Greece and how they played and it was like a unit. There was no great glorious individual performance, just great teamwork.


    Yes, because until recently Leicester didn’t have a sugar daddy. They’ve recently got one. And they’ve spent it more wisely than most, but it’s no weirder than what Clough did at Forest.

  35. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Also the Greeks were coached by Otmar Hitzfeld who was one of the true greats of the last 25 years.

    Footballers are like sheep, some have lower intelligence than their ovine counterparts. They need a good shepherd. Sometimes it all clicks, like Leicester or Greece and sometimes the sheep become unmanageable, as Mourinho discovered.

  36. As Liverpool showed on Sunday, put up a B-team in the Premier League and you get your arse kicked.

    To be fair, winning the Europa League now gets you directly into the Champions League. No wonder Liverpool are willing to finish mid-table in an attempt to get to the CL by other means.

    And England are still ahead of Italy in the league coefficient, which sucks for those of us in the US where Fox Sports shows every CL game of the English teams, Real Madrid, and Barça on the lower-tier channels, and screw the other teams who get shunted to the more pricey channels.

  37. In hindsight they had Schmeichal and the Laudrups. Who did the Greeks have?

    They had qualified.

    To date Denmark’s win is the only case I know where a team has won a championship which it did not qualify for. That’s the amazing bit, not the football itself.

    (I wonder how many people had bets on Denmark that they tore up when they didn’t qualify?)

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