It’s funny the tweets people remember you for.
I have not seen anyone retweet my missives of five years ago forecasting a humanitarian disaster in Syria if the West turned its back on the Hitler like actions of President Assad. Nor have I witnessed anyone trawl the Twitter archives for my prediction that those under fire from their own President would, perfectly understandably, leave Syria and seek refuge in Europe.
But predict a football team will be relegated, or question a managerial appointment, and you can be sure such a tweet will come back to haunt you. Several times over.
I confess I do not understand how people have time to trawl the Twittersphere purely to spot a tweet by someone that can, with that magical ingredient called hindsight, make the author look very silly. Personally, I could not be asked so to do. But some folk clearly have too much time on their hands.
The fact is, we all make mistakes. We all say things that are proven to be wrong. Whether that is verbally,while propping up the bar in a pub pre-match. Or in writing.
Never has it been easier to make a total twit of yourself than since the invention of Twitter.
So it is that gloating supporters of Premier League leaders Leicester City have been happily giving new life to tweets I published when their club sacked Nigel Pearson and, instead, employed Claudio Ranieri.
Now the 140 character limitation of Twitter did restrict what I wanted to say. With hindsight, I should have written a post such as this one to explain my thinking. But I didn’t.
Instead, via Twitter, I told the club they were “officially bonkers” to sack Nigel Pearson. And I did question the appointment of Italian Claudio Ranieri. While clearly stating that I thought he was a very nice man (which he is), there was no disputing that his managerial career had come off the rails prior to the Foxes appointing him as Pearson’s replacement.
But I made two mistakes.
1) I based Ranieri’s current managerial skills on the terrible time he had suffered most recently, when managing Greece. They had a miserable Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and when Greece lost at home against the part timers from the Faroe Islands, Ranieri was sacked. I should have had his much better record in club football to the front of my mind, including his achievements at Chelsea. As a Chelsea fan was quick to remind me, he laid the groundwork for the first Jose Mourinho stint, taking Chelsea to second in the Premier League and to a Champions League semi-final.
And, prior to his Greek tragedy, Ranieri led Monaco back into Ligue 1 and got them to finish second in the top flight of French football in the 2013-14 season. An achievement for which he was fired!
After all, he’s not the only manager to have done well at club level, but failed with International sides (or vice versa). Guus Hiddink cannot lose at Chelsea, a job that followed on from his dismal failure to manage the Netherlands to Euro 2016 qualification. His predecessor at Holland, one Louis Van Gaal, did well as manager of the National side, but has found managing Manchester United a much more difficult task.
Nobody should be judged by how they do in one job, but instead their CV be looked at as a whole.
Claudio, forgive me, I am sorry.
2) I was too biased in favour of Nigel Pearson. A man I know from past dealings, a man I like and who is much misunderstood by those who only see the image he presented – badly – to the media.
Allow me to tell those happy Leicester City fans one thing.
I sincerely hope you win the Premier League. Feel free to tweet that!
I am quick to criticise when football clubs pay too much for players. So let me here and now say a big ‘well done’ to those responsible for the relatively cheap purchase of Jamie Vardy from the then non league Fleetwood Town. And for snapping up my favourite Leicester player, Riyad Mahrez, from Le Harve. Football player acquisition at its very best.
I am reliably informed that Ranieri was not the first name Leicester approached to be their new manager. But, importantly, he was the first to agree to take the job and work with the existing backroom staff left behind when Pearson was sacked. Good on you Claudio. You have to admit it, that was a lucky break for Leicester City football club.
And that luck, along with the common decency of Ranieri, is paying dividends. At the time of writing Leicester lead the table by five points. I believe only one team can now prevent them winning the Premier League. That team is Leicester City.
Footballers who expected to be fighting relegation, must now show the mental strength to carry on regardless and win the title. They would not be human were they not to become increasingly nervous as the football season draws to a close. Leicester players will get the jitters in some games.
But in Ranieri they have the right manager to keep them smiling, calm and focussed. If the players do not lose their nerve, if their most influential players stay fit, I can’t see them being caught.