RIGHT. How can I put this in a way so as not to offend or unnerve?
Yes. That’s my overdue Prince tribute. Not as spectacular as the weather deciding that it should go all out to fulfil everybody’s Sometimes It Snows In April blizzard-based hopes but there you go, we all give what we can, when we can.
Which is what Leicester have done, really; given what they could, when they could.
Look, I’m not here to denigrate or dismiss Leicester’s achievement. I didn’t even see the crucial moment, if we’re going to be honest; I took one look at Spurs sliding quite happily into a two-goal lead against a Chelsea team who clearly no longer gave the slightest sign of a shit and thought: “Not happening tonight”, decided instead to catch up on last week’s Game of Thrones, see exactly how long Jon Snow would stay dead for.
It’s not a spoiler, I haven’t said whether he’s still dead or not, it’s just the most bloody obvious narrative thread ever. Anyway, doesn’t matter, that’s why I’d stopped watching the Chelsea/Spurs game; lack of being arsed. I found out that Leicester had won the league at 9.55pm, turned back to the footy, Jon Snow still dead at that point. Still not a spoiler.
I’m pleased for them. Obviously I’m pleased for them, winning a league title’s a hell of a thing, vaguely remember how good it used to feel back when we were winning it all the bloody time. Imagine how it feels when it’s a once in a lifetime achievement. And it is. It really is, you know it is.
I’m not trying to take away from the scope of that achievement. Leicester have stood up, made themselves be counted, made themselves hard to beat, shown they knew how to grind out the 1-0 wins at exactly the point that they needed to.
Crucially, they’ve shown that throwing money at a problem doesn’t guarantee success. We’ve all seen the stats by now; United have spent more in the last two seasons than Leicester have in the entire history of time.
Leicester’s most-used starting 11 is valued at £23 million. That’s approximately two thirds of a Christian Benteke. Half a Raheem Sterling. Half a Raheem Sterling just won the league. That’s massive. That proves that anyone can do it, doesn’t it?
No, it doesn’t. Wish it did, but it doesn’t. It proves that anyone could win it this season. THIS season, not ANY season.
I don’t want to diminish Leicester’s win, but…
But, but, but, but, but…
But I’m a miserable bastard. Despite that decision at the start of the season that I was going to be all about the optimism this year, my default setting is miserable bastard. I sit in the Main Stand now, it’s pretty much a prerequisite; so I’m going to be as bloody miserable as I want. And yes, some of this will undoubtedly be fuelled by the sour grape tasting sense of “It should have been us”, but what are you going to do? You can’t escape that emotion.
Leicester deserve their win. You can’t argue that. Leicester kept going when others stopped, Leicester kept believing when others doubted, Leicester kept wanting it, never stopped wanting it. When others seemed to have stopped wanting it, Leicester just kept on going. Good luck to them, chuffed for them, chuffed for Ranieri, he’s made a lot of people look a little bit silly and he seems like a decent bloke. And he looks uncannily like my mate Geoff, so there’s that as well. (Our mate Fleety looks a lot like Jürgen as well. And I’ve been called Arsene to my face far too many times. Might start an agency, Prem manager lookalikes – got to be a few bob in that one).
But it took a lot of outside influences for Leicester to get here. It took a lot of other teams wobbling for Leicester to get here. The league won with 77 points? Unprecedented, surely? No, it’s not. United won it with 75 in 96/97 (and worth noting here, if you see me using stats, I’ve nicked them off Andrew Beasley – @basstunedtored on Twitter – because he’s great at them and I’m not).
Leicester could, as long as they’re not all bladdered for the next fortnight and you wouldn’t blame them if they were, finish the season on 83 points. Which would have won the league twice in the last fifteen seasons. We’ve beaten that total in four seasons, including the season of Suarez wonderment. Sour grapes, not denying it (and thanks to whoever was manning The Anfield Wrap Twitter account last night for that research, wouldn’t have done it myself).
Outside influences, then:
Mourinho wastes his summer chasing John Stones to strengthen his defence, doesn’t get him, his head falls off. He’s so pissed off with the world in general that he decides to publicly berate the club’s doctor, ON THE PITCH, DURING A GAME, for not realising one of his players was cheating. There seems to have been a possibility that Dr Carneiro was quite popular with the Chelsea lads because José lost the entire dressing room in one go. Strange that, act like a twat in public and lose the team. Chelsea only need to drop one more point in order to record the greatest drop in points from one season to the next. They’ve currently equalled that, dropping 30 on last time out. Yeah, Andrew again.
City announce next season’s manager. Their league season falls off a cliff. Cool in Europe but disastrous at home. Pellegrini, strangely, seems thoroughly calm with the situation.
Van Gaal manages to spend the GDP of a small country to make United worse than they were under Moyes, manages to make them poorer than last season.
Arsenal. Yeah, sorry, we’d all predict Arsenal doing that, it’s not exactly without precedent.
Us. Changing managers eight games in, starting again. Jürgen realising the lads aren’t fit enough, throwing in extra training, hammies snapping all over the place, building a team without a pre-season or any purchases, think what he could have done if he’d come in June. Might have been us. Might. Never know. It was there for the taking.
Martinez taking Everton’s best ever squad and making them less than the sum of their parts. They could have been contenders.
Spurs waking up halfway through the season and going: “Hold on, WE might be able to have a crack at this”. Bilić looking at the whole thing and thinking: “West Ham’s last season in this gaff before we get given a nice shiny new Tory-funded stadium? Might have a go here”. Both realising nobody other than Leicester wanted the league just that little bit too late.
It’s not happening next season. Leicester aren’t finishing top eight next season. Everybody else has had a wake up slap. Leicester have shown what can be achieved and everybody else has gone: “Oh aye, yeah, shit, could have been us”. Next season they’ll make bloody sure that it is.
Sorry Leicester, don’t want to take away from this, it’s a magnificent achievement and there’s no way anybody could see it happening last August and you deserve it, IT’S THE MOST DESERVED LEAGUE WIN EVER, I’ll have that, but it’s not happening again. It’s a one off.
It’s the greatest triumph in the history of sport though, isn’t it?
No. Again, sorry, but it’s not. Forest is still better. And I hear what everyone is saying, it was a more level playing field then, the spending power now makes this Leicester win greater than that Forest triumph and I get that, I honestly get that, but I don’t agree. Forest weren’t supposed to win the league in 77/78. Promoted as third in the second division, win the league the next season? Very few teams have ever done that, Forest are the last ones to manage it. Follow up winning the league by winning the European Cup and then defending the bloody thing the next season.
And people argue that they were able to spend; they were able to sign Shilton and Francis, they were able to make Francis the first ever million-pound player, but so much of their success was based on the workhorses Clough knew would do a job for him.
So much built on Robertson and McGovern and Gemmill and Clark and O’Neill. These weren’t the glamour purchases, these were a team. The team that won the league didn’t have Trevor Francis. The team that won the league had to finish above a Liverpool squad that read like this:
Clemence, Hughes, Jones, Smith, Neal, Hansen, Thompson, Callaghan, Case, Heighway, Lee, Kennedy, McDermott, Souness, Fairclough, Toshack, Johnson, Dalglish.
You having that squad as title challengers? They were certainly European bloody champions that year. Retained the trophy. Put that squad in the Premiership and it’s walking the bloody thing.
Forest finished seven points ahead. And then went on to win the European Cup. Twice. It’s a better story, it’s a bigger story, it’s a three-year story. And you can argue the European Cup was a knockout competition and you can be lucky with the way the draw falls but…two years running. Won it two years running, same as us.
No other team had done that before; promotion, then league, then Europe, then Europe again and no other team has done it since. Even when the playing field was as level as everyone argues. Sorry Leicester, if you win the Champions League then it becomes a bigger story, but at the moment Forest still have it.
And that’s seriously not to try and diminish Leicester’s title win. It’s a magnificent thing, it shows that money isn’t always the answer (though everybody’s now going to spend a fortune to try and make sure this doesn’t happen again) and that sometimes team spirit (and only being in one competition and being lucky with injuries and suspensions at the time you need to be lucky with them) can be enough to win through.
It’s a magnificent thing. It makes them the first new team to win the league for 38 years. Since Forest. It means they’ve come from 14th to win the title, which is unparalleled.
Except for Forest, who were in a different bloody league the season before they won theirs.
It’s deserved. That’s what we always need to remember. Leicester deserved their title. No other bugger did.
Good article. They have deserved it. Without a doubt. Still felt a bit sick last night when it was confirmed. Yet another team that’s managed to win the PL before us. Just feels wrong. Even if Spurs had won it, it would have felt wrong. Just took me back two years and made me feel sick again. They did it. How the hell didn’t we do it?
I was lucky enough to be there when we last won the league. I’d give anything to see us do it again. Next year. There’s always next year……
The goalie and mainstay centre half from that near title win had 50-odd league goals put past them that season, are still here and both have actually gotten much worse since. I’m struggling with it tbh.
Can’t agree more Ian! My mates have been giving me shit for mentioning just how much has gone there way this season! As you say they deserve it so much more then everyone else but good god imagine taking away Vardy for even a quarter of the season through injury or even Mahrez or Kante for 5 games!
It’s mental how literally EVERYTHING has gone there way! Ahh well of i’m not bitter, it means i didn’t want to win it that much and that makes me not that good a fan in my opinion. They deserve it so much more then everyone else but that’s because everyone else was completely shit!
Yeah thought it was a bit harsh on Spurs having to play on Monday nights in the run in as well with Leicester getting to increase the pressure over the weekends. No surprise they drew both games and completely lost the plot in the second half last night.
Great article Ian, I agree with just about everything you say.Leicester deserve it because they have been the best, no other team has come close consistently.
A dedicated Liverpool Supporter who does a 180 mile trip for all home games.I am originally from Leicester,started supporting them in 1955 and changed my allegiance after they beat us 1-0 in the 6th round at Hillsborough in 1963(why?).
I am absolutely delighted that they have one it.
P.S. couldn’t get next to you on Thursday but not far away will try to say hello(Paul).A8T A8T,
Great article. In agreement on everything really. Spurs are a decent outfit but it’s not exactly Paisly’s Liverpool now is it. They only drew with us home and away so they can’t be up to that much.
I can see Messi, Suarez and Neymar beating our record hiding of Besiktas in 2007 tbh. Big Wes Morgan’s gonna struggle to cope if he’s got to get himself clean to take the same UEFA piss test as Sakho… I’m messing. Sort of… There’s a lad who was playing semi-pro a few years ago, couldn’t get in their team over Nugent when they were in the championship and then nearly getting relegated, who woke up one morning in his late 20s and decided he was just gonna smash premier league records Henry and Van Nistelrooy couldn’t touch the sides of, so I don’t know what’s real anymore.
So yeah, our 26th titleless season has ended with Leicester winning it without having to crack 80 points and with games to spare. We’ve finished nowhere. Again. Fucking marvellous.
Remembered the double ‘o’ in Nistelrooy but not the ‘e’ in Paisley. Good lord, what have I become? Blame Mignolet. Or Skrtel. Whichever really.
I hate to be pedantic, but I’m going to be because I’m that kind of bellend. Leicester likely won’t play Barca in the CL next year by virtue of being top seeds.
Mind you, not sure if Barca miss out on being top seeds if they don’t win the league…imagine that.
Couldn’t agree more. Great achievement, blah blah blah. But the mitigating circumstances make it hard to swallow, especially after our last two title charges and the incredible way in which almost every other season we’d have won it. It almost doesn’t make any sense. Maybe we are cursed. Never to enjoy anything again. Because it seems that whenever we’ve been more than good enough to win, someone else somehow beats us to it. Yet Leicester do it with a team of nobodies, record low points total, and about 5-6 top teams simultaneously combusting. Roll on next season cause this one has been about shit as last season. And last season was awful.
“83 points. Which would have won the league twice in the last fifteen seasons. We’ve beaten that total in four seasons, including the season of Suarez wonderment”
What 4 seasons are you including there? Surely it has to be a 38 game season for comparison, using 42 game seasons would be an unfair comparison?
I watched the Forest team. Galling but it seemed everytime they won something they beat us on the way. I think the Foxes team effort this year is off higher magnitude. I heard the stuff about Man Utd spending more in the last two years than the Foxes in their history. What is the Liverpool v Forest comparison?
I’d imagine the Liverpool V Forest spending comparison of the time wouldn’t have been anywhere near the gulf in spending compared to Leicester & Man U,
Anyway who really gives a shite & If Leicester knock out 2 successive European cups I’ll hold them in the same esteem as that great Forest side.
Great read, someone finally talking some sense. Let’s also point out, Forest won back to back league cups as well, played more games and used less players. Toppled one of the greatest club sides of all time in 3 different competitions. Sorry Leicester but you’ve a way to go yet.
Leicester won the league with 77 points
Two years ago you asked ‘would you take 84pts?’ – almost none of TAW would have
In the context of the season at the time why would you? #bullshit #sowhat #random
84 points would have come second last year.
I was one of those that wouldn’t take the 84 points. My argument for that was that it would take 90 to win the league. It took 87. If the offer had been 62 points or 84 I’d have taken the 84 gladly. Wasn’t on the table though ;)
84 points guarantees CL football – and puts you generally in the top two, if not first, so also gives you a decent chance of the title. Though clearly not guaranteed
The point is that CL is important especially for a club like Liverpool – who, more than most clubs, rely on it’s ‘brand’ of European success
With the money in football now, theoretically all PL clubs can get almost who they want (if money was the only motivator)
Apart from money, a player, but specifically a foreign player with no ties to England is motivated by 1) the ‘brand’ 2) a club’s history 3) the chance to win things 4) who the manager is 5) the location of the city
There’s nothing that can be done with 2) and 5) they are fixed
CL football (having got 84 points) gives enhancement to 1), 3) and 4) — managers are attracted by it, with draws good players in who want to play for a ‘star’ manager.
CL football also enhances money to the club, and has a multiplier affect in adding cache to a player and adds to his commercial value
I can’t understand why no-one at TAW with an aim to win the league, would not have taken 84 for 2014-15 – especially hearing all about the ‘context’ that Neil Atkinson always says. The ‘context’ was that Liverpool’s history (2) alone is increasingly less of a draw for players, and it’s ‘brand’ (1) was no longer a CL club of the European elite, like it was in the mid 00s.
Context context context – you lads should have taken 84 points
No, not on the table but its fun to talk hypotheticals anyway – hell, thats what half the fun is!
One more for the ‘context’ thing – and another reason to take 84pts.
I believe the discussion was after the second Suarez bite? And a year after he tried to go to Arsenal? So, the chances of having miraculous season after season of his magic was not likely as it looked like he’d move on sooner rather than later
I didn’t want Champions League football though, not as my priority. I wanted the league.
IIRC, the conversations were all post bite, possibly post Barca move by the time I said no to the offer. I remain eternally optimistic. Next season I want a least 787, I want to win the league. I expect to win the league. :)
Ian as a Forest fan working in Leicester your summary of the comparison between Leicester and Forest is spot on. According to the media the only thing that happened pre-sky was the 1966 World Cup. Thank you for expressing my very thoughts from a thoroughly neutral point of view and I hope you lads beat Villareal tomorrow night.
The closest parallel with Leicester is Ipswich winning the league in 1961-62, after having been promoted, beating what *was* a great Spurs side to the title. A certain Alf Ramsey was in charge of them.
If you want a happy parallel, 1961-62 was the year Liverpool got back into the First Division, and went on to win a few things! ;)
Why on earth are all these comparisons with Forest being made? It was a different era and their achievements great as they were are not relevant to what Leicester have done.
Seems to me some feel that they must try to belittle Leicester’s achievement because we have never won the Premier. Its up to us to go out and do it.
Reds Onwards and Upwards