So I’ve had no choice but to get caught up in Leicester’s run this season at the risk of turning into a bitter and twisted old Gunner grouch. One look at Claudio Ranieri and all resistance crumbles, in the most fuzzy way possible, broken English and all.
Life could be worse I guess, Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool could be out in front. It’s bad enough trailing Spurs. The likeable 64-year-old is a breath of fresh air and despite his continued calls for caution among fans and players alike, his fantastic Foxes are within a whisker of writing the perfect conclusion to a modern day fairy tale. A tale with many refreshing twists. His alternative approach to getting the most out of his players is well-documented starting with a bang against the Black Cats last August.
The revolution had begun the minute the opening chord was struck. Turns out the rock band Kasabian’s track entitled Fire was the burning inspiration behind Leicester’s early rise. They thrashed Sunderland 4-2 at home and ever since that opening Saturday of the season, Ranieri’s side have only lost three times, twice to Arsenal. (Insert rolling of eyes emoji here).
The Italian mentor had chosen the song because firstly the band hails from Leicester, the lead singer – Serge Pizzorno – is Italian and finally if there was one song that was going to make them feel like warriors, it was Fire. Like the rest of the world, Pizzorno has enjoyed the incredible ride which started as a teenager who attended Uefa and League Cup matches in the Nineties. After hearing that Ranieri had chosen Kasabian to lead the boys out on to the pitch, a starry-eyed Pizzorno reflected on the early days.
“I remember when those days were happening and there were about 10 of us that went together. One of the dads said: ‘Look boys, remember these days, because you’re lucky we’re going through it’,” enthused the singer. There are plenty of other antics that have entertained fans and media.
Once labelled “Clownio”, the once ridiculed former Chelsea manager is enjoying the last laugh as he eases the nerves with his light-hearted approach. As soon as his players aren’t responding, Ranieri waves an imaginary bell accompanied by “dilly ding, dilly dong”.
One can only imagine what the initial reception must’ve been like. Oh, to be a fly on the wall, or on the team bus. Jamie Vardy confessed early last month how he and his teammates were starting to feel the pressure of widening the gap following the draw between Spurs and Arsenal at White Hart Lane.
While on their way to play Watford later that Saturday, the tension was tangible. But as always, the spirit of Ranieri came to the rescue. While contemplating the job ahead, Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling appeared on the TV screen mimicking the manager’s dilly ding dong act.
The whole bus burst into laughter and we all know what transpired at Vicarage Road a few hours later. With five games to go, who knows what might still happen but we are in for a great four weeks nonetheless. And on that note I’ll leave you … singing: “Move on, you got to move on. You got to hit ‘em to the hip and get your shake on” – Kasabian.