"The ball is round, the game lasts ninety minutes and everything else is just theory"
- Sepp Herberger
Every sports has its spiritual home and England should be the spiritual home for Football. The Premier League(EPL/BPL) has to be the showcase tournament which is unique by its history, quality and colorfulness.
Even glorious things sometimes gets rusted. The beautiful game in this beautiful league got faded by the big money & machinery. The league became a platform where teams with huge cash brought expensive players and coaches. Those teams maintained the monopoly on the league by same teams winning the league again. Since inception of premier league in 1992, the title has been shared by only 4 teams (Manchester United - 13 times, Chelsea - 4 times, Arsenal - 3 times, Manchester City - 2 titles). Only aberration to this pattern was Blackburn team which joined this elite winners list once.
The premier league got into a vicious cycle of these 4 big teams spending loads of money buying players from around the world. It became a competition where teams with big pockets ended up choosing bigger & better teams. Naturally the advertising, television rights, merchandise etc followed the top teams.
In all this money slugfest, the teams at the bottom of the league barely managed to survive in the league. Without the economic support and without being in major competitions, it became difficult for these teams at the bottom to attract the talent.
From football fans perspective, the league which was supposed to be an open forum for best football teams got reduced to the half a dozen best rich football teams.
This year's league was almost set in the same mould until Leicester City happened ...
"It's easier to resist at the beginning than at the end " - Leonardo Da Vinci
When Leicester City started winning in the initial phase of the league, it was considered a brave act by a team which barely managed to stay away from relegation in last year's league. If it was up to the media, pundits & the bookies, any expectation from Leicester was impossible. Cue to the 5000:1 odds of them winning the league.
Then something happened..
The Leicester City victories didn't appear to be a fluke. There was a method to these madness. Slowly everybody started sitting up & noticing.
But a shot at winning the league was still a far stretched fantasy.
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get " - Forrest Gump
Like in any sports, there are multiple tiers or levels in Football where players reach the top tier. With 20+ levels and complex hierarchy of leagues, English football can be a maze to navigate for aspiring players. Considering all these, Leicester picking Jamie Vardy is a stunning tale of an aspiring player getting into the top league. Similarly picking of Riyad Mahrez & Konte was a calculated bet. Old war horses like DrinkWater, Huth & Fuchs were picked as well.
But picking of Claudio Ranieri as the coach of the team made lots of eyebrows raise. It was a second chance for Ranieri in Premier League before being sacked by Chelsea in earlier stint. He was a likable gentle person mostly ending up second but pandits believed it was a disastrous choice for a team which was fighting delegation.
"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago " - Warren Buffet
As the winning streak continued in the league, it was getting cleared to everybody that the team is special and they are upto something special. That win over Manchester city & close defeat against Arsenal made it very clear that they are serious contenders.
With only Tottenham Spurs on their heals, Leicester managed to navigate the final few matches before Spurs drawing Chelsea to make Leicester unreachable on points tally. Thus the inevitable was achieved.
Imagine the plight of fans whose team hardly made it to premium league and was fighting to avoid relegation last season. Imagine what they should be going through now after seeing their team achieve the pinnacle award. Its a dream come true for any fan in any sports !
Understandably the whole Leicester went ecstatic. Everybody has ran out of superlatives to define the wonder run of Leicester.
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness" - John Keats
To start with, this team brought back the romanticism into football.
Here was a team of players & coach whom everybody had written off and were assembled from obscurity. Here was a team which was going against the establishment and conventional wisdom.Add to that, the tag of 'underdogs' and there was no reason not to like this bunch of Ranieri's caesars.
But lets be honest..if they hadn't played the fearless way they have been doing the whole season, this entire adulation would have sounded hollow. What a glorious display of beautiful game they displayed.
In the era of larger-than-life and megalomanic coaches, here was Claudio Ranieri who always sounded humble and grounded. The Pizza parties, the Turtle-Ninja outings and that lunch with mom..this coach was adorable.
Then who would forgot the now famous "Dilly Ding, Dilly Dong"
"Glory is a heavy burden, a murdering poison, and to bear it is an art. And to have that art is rare " - Oriana Fallaci
Undoubtedly the Leicester win is going to provide hope to every single team in England and all across the world of Football. It would provide new ways for the teams to think and manage their teams. Biggest thing is reinstate the concept that money can't buy the championships.
Some teenager in a remote place and with an unknown club can dream of one day playing for the premier league and probably for his country.
But don't underestimate the empire...
The big rich empire is bound to strike back in next season with more money power !
For Leicester, its a dream and as Ranieri said "Keep dreaming, why wake up".
It will be an interesting Champions league and next season of Premier League.
For now..Leicester is #havingaparty !!