I’m not a fan of football reporting in general but August leaves me drained and more so this year as we watch the media glee which would have us believe that Leicester City Football Club cannot, will not, repeat their glorious triumph of 2015-1016. The sinking ship, while not being deserted exactly is certainly, the press would have us believe, being dismantled: Mahrez to Arsenal, Schlupp to West Bromwich Albion, Chilwell to Liverpool and Schmeichel to Everton or should that be Bayern Munich? Schmeichel, after all has been spotted reading Carlo Ancelotti’s autobiography ‘Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches’. With the band of brothers scattered to the four winds, the odds on favourite for winning the Premiership must surely be Mourinho, I mean Conté (now that he has Kante), I mean Koeman (now that he has Walsh). It’s Klopp’s season, surely, or Arsene’s nearly men or do I mean Pochettino? Meanwhile back at the King Power, Ranieri has a plan.
It reminds me of the season Leicester’s top goal scorer Allan Clarke, who had signed in 1968 from Fulham signed for Leeds. It was 1969 and Leicester had lost the FA Cup to Manchester City by Neil Young’s single goal and were relegated to Division Two. My eleven year old self learned what it means to support a football club. You just can’t help yourself. You support the club, come what may, and not the team and certainly not the success. The success is a bonus but so sometimes, is the team.
Allan Clarke went on to have an illustrious career with Leeds United, winning the FA Cup among other trophies. And Leicester? Well, they just missed out on promotion straight back to Division One but the following season, 1970-1971 were Division Two Champions and beat Liverpool in the Charity Shield.
Which brings us to 2016-2017. I’m anticipating much gleeful hand rubbing as the pundits are vindicated. Leicester’s achievement was a fluking one off and normal service will be resumed. Conté, Klopp, Koeman et al.
2016-2017 is a recipe for disappointment for the Foxes but that’s the DNA of the football supporter – supporting and following their club through the ups and downs. I’m old enough to have been through it all but it doesn’t make it any easier. How are Leicester City going survive without Kante / Clarke / Cambiasso? They will. And of course, for the second time the Foxes will be facing a team in red for the Charity / Community Shield. In fact, you know, the omens are actually very very good. Steve Whitworth, local lad, defender, scoring the winning goal in 1971 is a definite omen for Wes Morgan, local lad, defender, to score the winner, on fifteen minutes. Now, what are the odds for that?