TV View: Leicester’s success leaves pundits lost for words
Claudio Ranieri is winning hearts all around though World Snooker certainly is not
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri is now just two points away from leading his team to a miraculous first Premier League title. Photo: Reuters
‘Who are ya,” chanted a sprinkling of the home support when the Leicester players arrived out to warm up at Old Trafford. Cue universal chuckling. In a few years’ time the schoolyards of Leicester will most probably be populated with little Claudios, Riyads, Kaspers and N’Golos, and every second girl will be called Jamie. You’ll do well to find a teeny Mancunian Louis, Memphis, Marouane or Bastian around the same time.
“You just run out of things to say about this achievement,” said Neil Lennon, a dangerous admission for a fella hired by Sky Sports to talk about the Leicester achievement. An honest one, though. What can you say?
(Cousin: “Donegal in ‘92 under Brian McEniffio!” Hmm, maybe). Put it this way: Leicester were 5,000-1 to win the league; Martin’s lads are only 125-1 to win Euro 2016. Prepare the open-top bus.
Still, though, for some they’ll always be Little Leicester, rather than the Leviathans they have become. Graeme Souness, for example, was praising them at half-time, talking of “the small team coming to play the big team”.
You had to stop and think which was which. Small club v big club, indeed, not so much the teams. And then he was doffing his cap in their direction for not “throwing the towel in” after they went a goal down. You don’t get to be one win away from collecting the league title by surrendering at 0-1. Besides, the likes of Morgan, Huth and Kante would rather eat a towel than chuck it.
Before the game Ranieri had his chat with Geoff Shreeves and forecast a tough game because United had something to fight for, and you could only smile, the football world turned on its head. Would plucky United delay Leicester’s title charge?
A few days back we saw Ranieri watching a video of Leicester people telling him they wanted to hug the bejaysus out of him and how much he’d done for the city, and he got teary-eyed. And those with hearts got a bit sniffly too.
At this point Graeme Le Saux, who played under Ranieri at Chelsea, interjected to remind us all that the Italian isn’t a fluffy bunny, that he can be a ruthless bugger, like anyone ever thought fluffy bunnies lead 5,000-1 shots to the title.
Any way, United looked almost Fergie-ish in those opening 17 minutes, actually passing the ball in a forward direction and looking like a team that would quite like to score. And then they did. But then Morgan equalised and all felt right with the world again.
A draw it was, Ranieri with a hand and a half on the trophy.
“Before our goal we was a little little scare-id, United started very very well as a bigga bigga team . . . but we have a very good heart,” he told Geoff, sounding for all the world like a fluffy bunny. “For us it is important for us to continue to dream.” No wonder they want to hug the bejaysus out of him.
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By then, of course, he had helped to give us the longest frame in World Championship history when he and Marco Fu took 76 minutes to clear the table of balls, making Jordan Spieth seem like sport’s equivalent of Speedy Gonzalez.
John Virgo spoke for the planet. Unintentionally, mind you, him thinking his mic was switched off: “I wanted to watch a bit of racing this afternoon. I’ll be lucky to watch some f****** Match of the Day.”
Virgo apologised. We’re still waiting for Selby and Fu to do the same.