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Love for Leicester
Wow. I think Football365 has got it spot on, this is a real watershed result for us. The way the team has improved since this time last year is unbelievable. The atmosphere tonight was electric, certainly for the first hour with our quick breaks and the wonderful skill of Mahrez.
There are two worries for me going forward to our trips to Merseyside in the next 11 days. Firstly, Huth will be out of the game against Everton. This could be a real gamechanger as our form since April has coincided with Huth being an ever present in the team. He organises the defence and Morgan has looked twice the player next to our German. It worries me particularly with Lukaku in such form. Secondly, Drinkwater’s injury will hopefully not be serious. This would be our first injury to a key player this season, a player who is the heartbeat of this Leicester team, along with Kante.
Aside from that though, we are top of the table in mid December! The Premier league table. And are pretty much guaranteed to be playing premier league football next year. Great time to be a Leicester fan.
Chelsea fans were good tonight as well, made a lot of noise and seemed let down by their players. The last 30 minutes should be encouraging for them, they could easily have drawn or even won the game. They looked toothless with Costa up front on his own, bringing Remy on to share the burden was a turning point. A lot will be said in the media lambasting them, but, for me, that was a very close game between two teams playing some lovely football.
Can I just say, it warmed my cockles to see Ranieri get one over Mourinho with THAT team? I know it has been quite a few years but Mou has always been a tad horrible to the Italian, what with his veiled references or open dismissals for the simple, unalterable reason that he preceded the Portuguese at Stamford Bridge.
I have always liked the Tinkerman. His teams play enterprising football and as a manager, he has always come across as a dignified, respectful person. Happy to see him be so shockingly successful.
Speaking of exes, watching Chelsea this season just screams “never go back.” A good piece of advice for players, managers and humans alike.
Ahad (I’d would go back in a jiffy though)
I think I am right in saying that only twice has the team that was top at Christmas failed to win the league. Given that both times it was Liverpool and given the obscenely hard run Leicester are coming to the end of, you’ve got to start believing in this no? Perhaps it’s only a Vardy or Mahrez injury away from losing track but the spirit seems incredible and players like Albrighton and Schmichael are comfortably playing the best football of their careers all at the same time. It’s a lovely storm that’s brewing there.
I probably only think this because my team are guaranteed not winning the league this season, but I’d quite like to see Leicester win it. I’d even not mind seeing Spurs finish top 4 since my own team are currently bottling every chance we have to catch up to those above us. Both Spurs and Leicester play good football, both have managers who seems like decent chaps and both have had some tougher and leaner times in the recent past.
Are Chelsea really going to persist with Mourinho? I hope they do because I struggle to see how he can fix this mess without binning about half his squad and signing a load of new players. This definitely can’t happen in January which means we might end up seeing just how deep this rot really goes. I guess Dortmund were in a similar position last year and found their groove eventually but that seemed like teams had just worked out how to cope with their game plan. This literally makes no sense.
Finally, is Mignolet genuinely getting a new contract? Misery.
Robert Huth, the unsung hero of Leicester City’s remarkable 2015 calendar year. If you think back to last season and the start of this great form, it all started shortly after Huth’s immediate integration into the side following his arrival from Stoke. During the infamous escape, Huth was arguably the best performer putting in some immense performances (Newcastle @ Home comes to mind). He has maintained his place in the side and along with Wes Morgan, played every minute so far this season. Leicester are by no means defensively stout but the presence and continuity of Huth and Morgan must provide peace of mind to the other players. After another solid performance today, I thought it right to shed light on one of the lesser lights contributing to this special season. Vardy,Mahrez, and Kante deservedly receive the majority of the plaudits but Leicester have very much reaped the benefits of playing as a unified unit and Huth has played a big part in this. Long may this run continue!
Wallace (Kante = Heart, Mahrez = Brain, Vardy = Knockout Punch)
N’golo Kante had possibly one of the most complete defensive midfield performances I have ever seen.
He needs a position named after him, it’s only fair.
Rob (We are staying up!) Leicester
I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Wes Morgan marking Messi at the Nou Camp next season.
Why not Leicester? The general thought seems to be inevitable tumble is coming – but what if it isn’t? When Arsenal defeated them 5-2, there was ‘the ride was fun while it lasted’ narrative and based on the openness of that game it was somewhat justified.
But full credit to Ranieri and co., since shipping 5 in that game, they’ve tightened up and allowed 8 goals in their last 9 league games. With zero European commitments, you just never know…
Nick C. Burlington, ON
16 budget conclusions
1. How much did Ranieri enjoy that? He looked like he was going to explode at the end of it. A part of it must have wanted to come out post match and say, “Mourinho is too old to change his methods.”
2. Everyone enjoys a small team doing well, think Blackpool under Holloway, but this is no longer Leicester being merely spoilers, they are bringing the party. A victory over a team rightfully beaten by Bournemouth last week does not prove your title credentials but this victory is enough for most critics to go from “Leicester can’t win the title” to “Leicester can’t win the title…right? Surely not?”
3. Leicester meteoric rise to the top can at least be explained by the form and effort of the team, Chelsea’s demise is unexplainable.
Sure there have been games where the team has look unconcerned(They are no Newcastle though, they do seem like they care and they are playing for their manager, exhausted sure but motivated) but this was not one of those games. There was quality combined with endeavor. If anything, Chelsea lost the game tactically.
4. Chelsea’s lack of clear cut chances was more down to the excellent Leicester defense, not just the defenders but the entire team. Ranieri is the original hipster; geggenpressing before it was cool.
5. Nobody embodies Chelsea’s malice more than Matic. An automatic (sorry had to) pick last year, Matic was invisible for the right reasons doing his job efficiently. This season he has simply been invisible, unless he is getting a card. Does the mask make him into some reverse superhero where he loses his powers?
6. Fabregas, the only player in the Chelsea Team that does not look as passionate as everyone else but the quality is there clear to see. I am surprised that Cesc and Pedro have not combined more efficiently but Cesc looked much better today further forward after coming on. He has played false 9 for Spain and Barcelona, he simply does not work as part of a midfield two but give him protection at the back and he can unhinge defences.
7. Remy, he really should be playing more. Play 2 strikers Mourinho. The team looked so much better after Terry came of and the team threw caution to the wind.
8. This has to be Terry’s last season. He is not solely responsible for Chelsea’s downfall but there is no space on the banner to say Captain. Leader. Legend…substituted
9. Courtois is a monster, for Mahrez to score that goal against him is even more Impressive. What an absolute beauty. On a sidenote, watching Courtois pick a high ball from the air with one hand is like watching the Undertaker give X pac a chokeslam.
10. He’s no Peter but Kasper is good too.
11. On a side note, I kept wondering how crazy were Aston Villa to sell Albrighton. He was a bright spark in that team even two years ago. Turns out Aston Villa were not crazy enough to sell him, they were even crazier and released him as a free agent.
12. Mahrez and Vardy, yes Leicester will struggle if they get injured this season but there is no way Leicester can keep a hold of the two of them beyond this season. They should break the fax machine in January just to be sure.
13. Coming back to Chelsea, this is not Mourinho’s lowest ebb like it was Van Gaal’s yesterday. Chelsea actually looked motivated, which makes this loss even more unexplainable. Leicester totally deserved to win though.
14. Inches. There is a great Mourinho speech about inches, and this was the point I was making in conclusion 2 and if you say well then Shehzad why are you being repetitive, and IL say you stop masturbating and try to write 16 conclusions a*shole.
This is not so much a conclusion but leaving it as a question, if a couple of decisions had gone Chelsea’s way and the ball had gone a couple of inches either side in a few games would Chelsea have been battling for the title rather than being a relegation dog fight? Are the margins that small or have Chelsea truly been this dire. I am of the opinion of the former but would like Chelsea’s fans opinion on this.
15. If this was anyone but Mourinho, he would be sacked. The controversies and, the drama are not worth it when the results are this bad. The best news for Chelsea this week is that Real Madrid lost.
Best case scenario Benitez gets sacked, comes to Chelsea and savages this season.
16. It is all psychological. Mourinho noted that after they lost to Man City other teams started coming to Chelsea thinking they can win, that belief has made it harder for Chelsea to win whereas Arsenal could play most of their game in 2nd gear, Chelsea has had no such luxury this season.
Manchester United hasn’t had the same aura after that thrashing by Man City, this is as much as I hate watching Man United play boring football this season, Mourinho this season and the Moyes experience has made me so scared of the possibility of becoming the next Liverpool that I want Van Gaal to steady the ship. Even if it means death by posession. The death of viewers that is.
At least every Chelsea match is exhilarating, for the wrong reasons mostly for Chelsea Fans. If Degsy feels Chelsea will win next week, put your House on Sunderland getting something from the game.
Psychologically they will go thinking they can.
-Shehzad Ghias, mufc, karachi
It’s always fun to revisit F365’s season predictions to see how close or wide of the mark the “experts” are.
I’m reminded of a few choice quotes about Leicester every time they win. Let’s have a look for sh*ts and giggles:
“Who’s going down?”
Daniel Storey: Norwich, Leicester and West Brom.
Nick Miller: Norwich, Leicester, Bournemouth.
John Nicholson: Bournemouth, Leicester and Watford.
Matt Stead: Watford are nailed-on favourites. Untested manager, bloated squad and Heurelho Gomes is a recipe for disaster. Ranieri’s Leicester has a touch of the ‘QPR’ about them, then… Bournemouth.
Ian Watson As it stands, I think Leicester will drop, a few months after Claudio Ranieri gets the bullet around Christmas.
“First to be sacked”
Nick Miller: Can’t see Claudio Ranieri lasting,
John Nicholson: Claudio Ranieri looks set to be a disaster.
Ian Watson: Ranieri will be a goner but it depends if someone beats him to it.
There were further massive clangers dropped about Watford and Quique Flores. To be fair though, I thought Man United might play some exciting stuff this season, so I haven’t faired much better. Let’s end on triumphs of Mystic Meg proportions for Winty and Storey though…
“Finally who would you most like to fail, and why?
Sarah Winterburn: Not groundbreaking but Jose – he enjoyed an awful lot of luck last season and it would be tres amusing to see that run out.
Daniel Storey: Jose is a dreadful arse at times, and readers of this fair site claiming I love him makes me itch. I’d also really like Louis van Gaal to cock it, even though I quite like him. S**t United was a fun United.
If Leicester lose every match from now till May they might still just stay up. What an amazing story.
Dr Shah (suffering United fan in exile), Leicester.
Laughing at Chelsea
I liked the final line from your report on Mourinho: “He’s injured, clearly,” added Mourinho, with more than a dose of sarcasm. If only they had a decent Doctor who could make a diagnosis – oh, I forgot, they did have but she was forced out by Mourinho in a fit of pique.
I think that Chelsea’s problems started on that day back in August where they drew at home to relegation rivals Swansea. Instead of looking at his own performance and his players, Mourinho rounded on the team Doctor and looked to blame everyone else. To the outsider the malaise was apparent, but to the ‘special needs one’ it was somebody else’s fault.
We can also add that Abramovitch is not above reproach either – as the one brilliant manager who is immediately available to replace Mourinho, Ancellotti, wouldn’t return to the Bridge after the despicable way he was treated last time.
Hubris, karma and schadenfreude all wrapped up into one glorious season.
Forget whether Leicester could win the league for the moment…could Chelsea actually get relegated? Their aura is gone, their confidence is low and the corner is still to be turned. Plus all the specialist relegation fighters are already in jobs elsewhere….
Mark (ITFC, couldn’t happen to a nicer team)
In 1937 Man City were relegated having won the title the previous season, and were bizarrely also the league’s top scorers when they went down.
It couldn’t happen to Chelsea.
The literary Ben B, MCFC
I remember getting all in a tizzy about United missing out on Pedro. I’m not that fussed about it now.
Simon P (he’d still walk into that United XI) Northampton
Lukaku to Man United
I loved your piece on Lukaku. He really is a wonderful player. Mourinho dropped a bollock when he sold him to Everton, although I suppose they got some cash for him unlike Sir Alex who truly shafted United by allowing Pogba to slip through the net.
I think a £50m+ bid from United in January would be too hard to resist for Everton and would surely make United genuine title contenders? It makes complete sense for United (not Everton though admittedly):
1. United get the striker they are desperate for and as an added bonus he is already adapted to the Premier League and still young.
2. In the summer we can prioritise other areas and to be honest I can’t think of another striker with similar or better ability in world football whose club would be willing to sell and the player would be willing to leave (Lewandowski – no chance, Aguero – ditto, Suarez….. you get the picture). No disrespect to Everton but they are at the ‘right’ level for a club in United’s situation to purchase from. This is one signing where it doesn’t make sense to wait until the end of the season. Pay the extra money that Everton will demand because it’s January and get him in.
3. United won’t have much competition to sign him. City don’t need him and Lukaku won’t want to go back to Chelsea. Maybe Arsene Wenger will declare that he scouted Lukaku as a 5 year old after he’s signed for United?
One other thing that has been on my mind since the Leicester vs Chelsea game last night is that the demeanour of the Chelsea players gave it away that Mourinho has indeed ‘lost the dressing room Jeff’. I doubt it that Roman will fund the change of a whole playing squad in the middle of the season so it looks likely that Jose will walk or be pushed pretty soon. If that does happen, would United replace Van Gaal with him? Chelsea have nothing to gain by keeping Mourinho, any half decent manager with those players can prevent them from being relegated, but United have everything to lose should Mourinho be available unexpectedly in mid-season and Van Gaal continues to flounder. With someone like Mourinho in charge plus a striker and a left back, I really think United could be champions.
Can you imagine if United did appoint Jose and then went and signed Lukaku, not forgetting lovely Juan is there too? Would make a boring season exciting at least!
Chris, MUFC, Preston
LVG: Right place, right time
I’ll start off by stating upfront that this is not a rant to call for the sacking of LVG. He’s got a contract to fulfill, I’ll grudgingly let him run it out. However, if the Glazers do decide to cut that contract short, I’d be more than happy to buy everyone a round.
I’m writing this to clarify certain claims made by sections of the media and some of his supporters regarding the impact he and his ‘philosophy’ had on clubs like AFC Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
That claim is not just untrue, it’s insulting to the true greats like Rinus Michel who birthed Total Football (now THAT was a proper philosophy) in the 70s and his greatest pupil, Johan Cruyff, who himself is credited with the creation of the Tiki Taka.
Cruyff had managed both Ajax and Barca to great success before retiring to the boardroom. It’s also widely known that the academies of AFC Ajax and Barcelona (the renowned la Masia) were also founded based on Cruyff’s coaching methods.
Hence, LVGs success at AFC Ajax and Barcelona were largely based on the foundation that his predecessor had built. It’s often quoted that LVG gave debuts to a whole host of Barca & Ajax stars. The same stars that were developed by Cruyff’s Ajax Academy and La Masia.
One needs to recognize that both Ajax and Barca were already a success before LVG, and Barca are still a success after LVG. One can also argue that Ajax has done relatively well after as well. All this is due largely to the foundation that Cruyff built.
In his time at Bayern Munich, LVG won the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, and DFB Supercup ONCE. Bayern Munich themselves have won the Bundesliga a record 25 times, DFB Pokal a record 17 times and the DFB Supercup 4 times before and after LVGs tenure there. I hardly call that building a foundation. Especially when he was unceremoniously sacked before the season ended and the management had not even minced their words on the reason he was sacked. He was merely another cog in the great German machinery that is Bayern Munich.
That just leaves him with one Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar way back in 2009. And it doesn’t look like his ‘philosophy’ had any impact on them after that.
Steve McLaren has since won an Eredivisie too mind you.
If anything, he is the Jose Mourinho of the past. With short successful stints club to club, but never staying long enough because their egos would inevitably get in their way on man management of players, staff and management. The only difference would be that Mourinho bought big players whilst LVG blooded the academy ones that were waiting in the wings.
So no, LVG did not lay any ‘groundwork’ that has led to the current success of Ajax, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. And he will not lay any foundation for United here either. If anything, he will just blood the youngsters that has been trained in the academy long before he came on-board like he always had.
He was just a manager at the right place at the right time and fair play to him, he made the best out of it.
Keepers, East Of Mancunia
Before time began
Can someone tell me the last time United scored a goal on a proper counter attacking move? Thanks.
Kay (Philosophy my a**)
Klopp lacks class
How very dare we. Free kick and corners are not legitmate ways of playing football and playing direct is in some way unfair. Surely, we should turn up at places like Anfield with a squad of seriously limited ability and attempt to play Liverpool at their own game. Thus turning up and having our tummies tickled as Klopp’s dream narrative continues…
Welcome to the Premier League Jurgen. Within two months your kooky funny reputation has been blown away by the rigours of Premier League reality. If you play a predictable way, skilled coaches such as Pulis and Allardyce will be able to organise a team to shut you down and cause you problems. To show such a lack of class (not in celebrating like you have won the league with a lucky draw at home to the Baggies) but by not shaking hands with Pulis and by being derogative about a style of football you couldn’t coach against apparently. Ironically, Klopp had Benteke, the same Benteke who always used to score past us when playing for the Villa. Had, his team been a bit more direct at times, Olsson in particular would not have been able to cope against Benteke. After all he never has in the past. But knowing that would require some research and thought rather than a so called charisma and philosophy. If Klopp wishes to succeed in the Premier League he is going to have to learn fast. The first sign of adversity and he behaves with the same lack of class as Mourinho. Pillock.
Also there was nothing wrong with Gardners challenge. He had played the ball and his foot was barely off the ground. In fact it was Lovren arriving late that was the dangerous tackle. Yet, Skrtel and Milner’s thuggery goes unreported because again it does not fit the Klopp narrative. But this was the same against Spurs. Mclean villified for his tackle when almost a carbon copy of the tackle made by Harry Kane goes unreported.
Boing Boing Baggies Pride of the Midlands we know what we are
Top four turmoil
Boom! With such a ridiculous situation on our hands, my self-imposed moratorium on mailbox submissions is off.
Something the sky brigade brought out last night: no team have conceded the title after being top with this many points at this stage of the season. I was still of the opinion that Leicester are still bound to fall, as it’s the same old story – West Ham, Southampton, and Everton have all had great runs in the first half of the season in the past few years, only to fade after the Christmas period. So I did a little digging… last year on yesterday’s date, Southampton were on 28 points in 4th, and the year before Everton on 31 points in 4th. Leicester are on 35 points in first! Two pieces of information there, Leicester have earned more points on this crazy run than previous contenders, and the rest of the competition is having a terrible time of it. Stead-y can’t be too far off with his prediction that Leicester are definitely top-4 contenders. Unless…
One of our domestic team wins either the Europa League or the Champions League.
Scoff as much as you want, but we have three teams in both competitions. The last time Chelsea finished outside the top 4, they still made the CL because they won it that season! Their CL form has been inversely proportional to their PL form, so not a complete write-off. Man City and Arsenal, yeah, probably write them off though… ha.
Liverpool and Spurs will take the EL seriously, but Manyoo usually avoid it all costs – their fans are obviously too good for it. Both could work their way through the rounds with their inconsistency in the league probably keeping them out of the top 4 in the PL.
What happens if Chelsea and Liverpool finish outside the top 4, but both win their competition? Heartbreak, that’s what.
Jamie Vardy would not be having a party that night.
Bobby (also, when’s my “profile of an icon” for being the only living member of the mailbox hattrick club?) Foster-Westgarth
I’ve got to disagree with some of the knocks from Bano to Alan Pardew recently.
I don’t feel that how many losses in a row a team take in a season is that relevant, so long as the team recover from them and show “bouncebackability”.
When you consider that when he took over in 2010/11 he managed to maintain their 12th place finish, bearing in mind that Newcastle had just lost Andy Carroll that window (who their style of play was built around) and that Pards was under huge pressure from the fans and co who didn’t approve his appointment. It was even more impressive he managed to take them into 5th the following season, finishing above both Chelsea and Liverpool. Whilst he was poor in 12/13 finishing 16th, I feel that this was a case of Newcastle only marginally under-achieving given that Newcastle only managed 12th and 13th in the seasons before they finished 18th and being in 12th when Pardew took over from them in 2011. Look at Carver and McClaren’s efforts for how far they fell without Pardiola.
Finishing 10th in 2013/14 and leaving the Toon in 10th in January 2015 was more than acceptable given that his net spend in his time at Newcastle from 10/11 to 14/15 was negative. Allardyce for example was averaging a net spend of roughly £20m per season over roughly the same time period at West Ham in comparison and never even cracked the top half.
To say that at Palace he was just “polishing a squad” who weren’t in disarray isn’t true. Pardew took over a squad in the relegation places and got them to the top half whilst gaining results that would have seen Palace finish 5th supposing he was there for the whole season.
At West Ham, he did a great job getting them into 9th, despite continually losing the best talents in the club and them not getting replaced, which caused his predecessor Redknapp’s departure. West Ham were in 18th when he got sacked, but the reason this looked so poor was because of his massive over-achievements the previous season. Tevez decided (not for the first time) that he couldn’t be bothered to play, so it was just Mascherano who was anywhere half decent in the club. There’s also the fact that Curbs who took over was able to spend something like £30m in the January window and only got 27 points from 21 games despite far better talent at his disposal.
He is the smuggest git in management (maybe behind Nigel Pearson) and says a few daft things, but there’s no questioning his managerial acumen.