Leicester Stars Should Stay Put for More Silverware
So if you didn’t believe me earlier in the season when I said this was the poorest quality Premier League for a generation, perhaps ever, then maybe you’ll believe me now.
It’s nothing to do with Leicester by the way if you were expecting me to bring them into it. Not at all. They are champions who’ve shown all the hallmarks of a good side, consistency, quality, resilience and discipline. No, the proof that the Premier League has been one of the worst ever comes from the Manchester/North London battle that will now take place at Upton Park on Tuesday night and then the last, exciting match day on Sunday, where Leicester and their players may be double digits in points ahead of the rest.
The story we’ve all been fed this season is as follows.
Arsenal are mentally weak. Spurs are mentally strong.
Arsenal are shit. Spurs are a great side in the making.
Yet Arsenal could finish second come next Sunday evening.
That, ladies and gentlemen is the proof that the league is poor.
A side that most pundits acknowledge as mentally fragile, leaderless and have no bottle when it matters may come above a side we all bestow as being potential greats. That worries me, and should worry you if you think this league is as good as many suggest.
What does it say about our league that the two Manchester sides, having spent anywhere between 500 million and 1.5 billion on players, are in a battle for 4th next Sunday? It says that recruitment these days in Manchester is based on throwing money around willy nilly rather than having a cohesive and structured recruitment policy, and also tells me that as the Champions prepare for Sunday with that double digit lead over both clubs, those “big” signings aren’t as good as the fees paid for them suggest.
I love the Premier League and being pitch side at Leicester last Saturday hearing the noise, seeing the colour and sheer joy of the celebrations made me proud to have played in this league and to have been a fan of this league (old 1st division) since my first game watching Villa v Derby in 1977 but sometimes, with the modern hype and hyperbole comes a simple narrative put out there by journalists and fans who haven’t done their homework.
I do and will continue to offer up questions that hopefully make us all put things into context rather than accept the story or fairytale of the day as fact.
I was at Spurs yesterday and although they are exciting going forward, I just didn’t see the defensive greatness which has them as the league’s best defence. In fact I’d say if that’s the leagues best defence, then defending in the league just isn’t very good, something again I’ve been saying for years. Shane Long, a good but not great central striker tortured the Spurs back four and on another day, with better finishing he may have been walking away with a couple of goals under his belt.
Likewise at The Etihad…
Arsenal have quality in advanced positions but the defending at times is pure schoolboy
…and this is another back four heralded as one of the best in the country.
I’m not nit picking or demeaning the achievement of Spurs, Arsenal or the two Manchester sides, but surely in a season where the story is Spurs have been great and Arsenal poor, that should be reflected in the points tally now, with one game to go? Or will some smart arse say that the base that Spurs came from was much lower than Arsenal so already they are in major positive territory in terms of catch up. I disagree, you’re either much better or you’re not.
As for the Champions of England, the suggestion already is that this miracle can’t continue, that the bookies have given slightly better odds on relegation rather than retaining the trophy and that Kante and Mahrez are off to anywhere from PSG to Arsenal to Barca. As someone who moved from a great thing at Forest to one of the big boys (and was part of Europe’s most prolific partnership, mind), I’d say to any Leicester player, stay put, Ranieri is right, this time next year you may have another title under your belt (if my theory about the big boys being woeful is correct), a Champions League adventure, increased contracts and being Gods in Leicester. Or go elsewhere, find the dressing room eats you up, leaving you longing for those days at Belvoir Drive with good friends who you’d run through a brick wall for. There isn’t another dressing room in the country, possibly Europe, like Leicester, and that yet may yield more silverware for the Foxes.
In summary, I think apart from Leicester…
every team I’ve seen this season, and I’ve seen them all, have been average
…in the pantheon of Premier League seasons, all of them. Either lacking quality, consistency, a plan B or a ruthlessness to achieve aims as the Champions have.
A poor season for me, and after commentating on 60 games each season for the last 8, I’d like to think I know.
Only Leicester City come out with major credit, the rest are ok but nothing special, and the Manchester/North London situation may well see United and Arsenal prove that next Sunday.