So who tipped Leicester City to be top of the Premier League at this stage of the season? Hands up! Thought not.
I am far from alone in owing the Leicester squad an apology. And I should say ‘sorry’ to a man I’ve long had plenty of time for. I had foolishly doubted Claudio Ranieri after his dismal experience managing the Greek national side, which included a defeat at the hands of the Faroe Islands. The best sight in the Premier League so far this season is that of Claudio Ranieri wearing a big smile.
Far from missing the manager who helped them stay up last season, the Leicester City players are performing with a gun-ho attitude they dare not chance when managed by disciplinarian Nigel Pearson.
The Foxes are top and the pack are in hot pursuit. Football can make mugs of us all.
Jamie Vardy has been a winner for members of VG TIPS of late. At Newcastle he scored for the tenth consecutive game. He is on the brink of beating a long held goalscoring record.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw some bookies were still offering an odds against price for him to score at any stage of their game up at Newcastle. I’d tipped him to do that already in previous weeks. So, while he’s in his current form, I suggested to members they take the odds of 23/18 for him to sink the Magpies in the North-East.
And I tipped Leicester City to win at odds of 31/20. Easy money for punters.
Yes, they were away from home. But how on earth could BetVictor and Coral offer that price for a confident Leicester side to win against a Newcastle team lacking in confidence, hopeless when defending and staring relegation in the face? I would never make it as a bookie. I would have had Leicester odds on or Evens to win that match. They did so easily, 0-3.
Many of us thought Leicester would struggle this term. Personally, I like Nigel Pearson. I got to know him in the days when he captained Sheffield Wednesday to League Cup glory against Manchester United.
One can only presume the Leicester players are relieved he’s gone. How else can you explain the dramatic change in form when the squad is pretty much the same one he worked with?
In management terms things couldn’t be more different for the Leicester City players.
They’ve gone from being managed by a man who thinks hugs are for wimps, to one who is more likely to put an arm around a player than to give them a bollocking. Indeed, I doubt Ranieri knows what a bollocking is! That is, of course, a sweeping generalisation worthy of a tabloid newspaper. Pearson did not always rule with an iron fist. He does know which players to admonish and which to talk to in an encouraging, more gentle manner. Ron Atkinson said Nigel Pearson was the best Captain he ever managed, and that list includes Bryan Robson.
Claudio Ranieri was nicknamed the ‘Tinkerman’ during his time in charge at Chelsea. The accusation was that he fiddled too often with team selection at Stamford Bridge. Ironically, rotating your squad is all the rage these days, at least for those clubs who can afford such a luxury. But Ranieri is a shrewd tactician and a good man manager.
One online bookmaker is offering odds as big as 250/1 on Leicester City winning the Premier League. Others have them at 150/1 or 100/1. Of course, it is unlikely they will do so. But, in a season when inconsistent performances are what the top teams are consistent at; who knows?
Other bets include one in which the top 6 clubs are out of the equation. So who wins a Premier League without Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs? As at Sunday, the bookies have Southampton and Everton ahead of Leicester in that market.
Leicester City are best price 10/3 to win a Premier League that excludes the top 6.
The looming threat to the fortunes of Leicester City is the January transfer window. The club will receive tempting bids for Jamie Vardy. Chelsea will likely lead the bidding. Leicester are not a one man team, but they would sorely miss his goals.
But for now Leicester City supporters must simply enjoy the fact that the so called big clubs may have the scent of the Foxes but, so far at least, can’t catch them.