It goes without saying that Chelsea fans will obviously have the hump this morning – VAR et al – but name me another set of fans who will not have been overjoyed to watch Leicester lift the FA Cup yesterday.
Supporters of the five other European Super League wannabees will merely mock the Blues for losing out on a trophy to add to their collection but the rest of football will see it for what it really was: a bloody nose for oligarch-funded Galacticos of the West End, who now see winning trophies as their God-given right.
If it had been Thomas Tuchel’s men lifting that trophy at 7:15 last night they’d have still had the pyro and confetti, and would still have celebrated with a round or two of “campiones, campiones…” but in no way would it have been the same as watching the sheer joy on the faces of the Leicester players and staff as Kasper Schmeichel and Wes Morgan lifted the trophy.
Neither, come to that, would a Chelsea celebration had the heart and soul of our City’s recent efforts as they first of all celebrated promotion and then the lifting of the Championship trophy.
To be honest, it’s hard to blame Chelsea fans for getting blasé over the winning of silverware. Such has been the level of funding since the arrival of Roman Abramovich, it would have been little short of a disaster if, over the last 18 years, they hadn’t have been regularly winning things. It was just a little inconvenient for them that Sheikh Mansour and a few other multi-billionaire megalomaniacs decided they too wanted a slice of the action.
So I think we could all be forgiven a few Chambo-style fist pumps when watching Leicester topple one of the “Big Six” on the biggest stage. It was in itself a thing of beauty, but for it to be further enhanced by the sound of 22,000 voices made it really quite special.
It offered hope and, to a degree, some comfort. A comforting notion that you don’t have to be a supporter of a Premier League Galactico to stand a chance of seeing your team lift one of the major trophies of English football. It remains a slim chance but that chance is still there.
Leicester, let’s not forget, have a benefactor of their own without whom they wouldn’t have won the Premier League title in 2015-16, but it’s obvious to all that the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and his son Aiyawatt are of a different ilk to the Joel Glazers, the John W Henrys and the Stan Kroenkes of this world.
While their love of Leicester City could never as deep-rooted as Delia and Michael’s love of our club, it’s clear that Aiyawatt and his late father developed an attachment to the Foxes that we can identify with. Decisions are taken based on what’s best for Leicester City the football club and they remain a community club that tries to do things the right way. And they appear decent people – another thing we can identify with.
So it felt okay to be happy for Leicester because it felt like they were doing it for the little guy, and by the little guy I mean not one of the ESL wannabees.
Prior to the Foxes Wembley triumph, they warmed up in the best possible with a win at Old Trafford – another reason to love them. But it was a post-match comment from Brendan Rodgers that struck a chord as he described a spell in the game when it looked as if United were gaining the initiative.
I’ve been unable to locate the exact quote, but Rodgers described how in said spell, his team’s passing out from the back was too slow and laboured and gave United the time and incentive to initiate a high press and win the the ball back in Leicester territory.
It struck a chord because that’s one of the changes for City that needs to be enacted next season if 2021-22 is to differ from 2019-20. While it is clearly a very good and important thing that Daniel Farke never ever deviates any way from his core principles, the ferocity of the high press from those teams who deploy it in the Premier League is at an altogether different level to those who try it in the Championship.
So, while it’s glorious to watch Messrs Hanley, Gibson and Omobamidele to and fro the ball between themselves, Tim Krul and the full-backs, for it to be Premier League ready it needs to be zipped rather than rolled, but always with precision. Or, to put it another way, more Man City (h) than Burnley (a).
Not that Farke and Webber need telling.
To continue the Leicester theme for just a little longer, another widely acknowledged improvement needed in City’s squad over the summer is to bring in some physicality and dynamism. In 2019-20 we were just a little too easy to play against and almost every team had the ability, if it was required, to bully us.
The passing rhythms remained as pleasing as ever but, especially during Project Restart, were disrupted just a little too easily. That needs to change, as already identified by Webber and Farke, and so it was interesting to watch yesterday as Leicester remained as combative as ever in that area of the pitch despite basically deploying just a two in there – Ndidi and Tielemans.
That both were able to more than match Chelsea in the physical battle despite, at times, being outnumbered said a lot about their ability to do the dirty stuff without the ball.
The key, of course, is to unearth a ‘unit’, or two, who can not only win the physical battle but also adapt to the requirements of Farkeball; not an easy circle to square.
Good luck Stuart.
And finally, I’ve already touched upon those 22,000 voices inside Wembley yesterday immeasurably enhancing the sense of occasion, but there was a wonderful moment, in the first half, which acted as the most perfect reminder of how much football has been diluted without fans inside the grounds.
You probably know what I’m going to say.
The clock had ticked onto 26 minutes 45 seconds when Timo Werner – Chelsea’s £47.5 million (!) signing from RB Leipzig – lined up a shot from 25-yards, but instead of hitting the back of Schmeichel’s, he hit row Z of the Leicester fans behind the goal.
The perfectly synchronised howl of derision from 6,500 East Midland voices was just beautiful. Music to the ears.
And in three months time it will be our turn.
How wonderful will that be.
martin penney says
Well said Gary.
Our very own Alex B messaged me yesterday that the only thing that spoiled the day for him was the sight of Gary Lineker jumping up and down like a mad eejit.
Apart from that it was the right result for football and surely enthuses fans of non *top six* clubs throughout the land.
I thought the Lineker thing was great. Let’s say Todd goes on to have a stellar career at Barcelona, wins the World Cup with England (or at least gets to the semis) then watches Norwich win the FA Cup in 30 years and reacts the same way as Lineker did. It would show you how much we mean to him in the way Lineker showed how much Leicester mean to him.
Alex B says
A glowing report and analysis of an FA Cup final.
So for once in God knows how many years a non top 6 side won the silver ware and yes it felt good.
The worst moment was seeing Gary Lineker celebrating 🍾 it’s a wonder he didn’t strip down to his Jockey shorts but that would have been X rated.
For beefing up hopefully Sorensen might add some of what is needed in front of Hanley/Gibson as the Danish league isn’t known as gentle league as we know from past imports they have strong units.
Webber mentioned that this transfer window will be a slow burner till after the Euros but I think they have their targets and will be well advanced trying to get them now rather than wait for prices to inflate after it finishes but only time will tell.
Onwards and upwards
Stay Safe and Keep Healthy 🙏
Colin M says
I found the game enticing and the ending quite emotional. Top man Kasper S the joy on his face said it all.
If ever the ESL needed proof the game is about fans, what a difference they made.
In Finland our football season has finally started, little bit late thanks to covid restrictions. Opposite than you do, we already have played our cup final where Kups surprised HJK and won final after penalties. Either of those 2 clubs are almost 100% surely going to win this season championship too. Basically you can call Kups as pain in the HJKs ass, they operate with lower budget but they operate better. Our cup system is closer to european cups, so there is qualification groups and games are played mainly indoor but final was played in Helsinki Olympic stadium. Same way as for Leicester, you could easily see after game celebrations that 50% were joy of winning the cup and other 50% was joy of destroying HJKs winning party. Why is it like that? HJK has already guarantee to play in champions league, when its over they head to european league and when its over they head to conference league. In all those 3 cups, UEFA gift them participation money. If they are in trouble to not win league again this season, they start taking more and more players abroad believing that some of them will make difference. About 80-90% of player contracts here are 1 season contracts.
KTP which is Teemu Pukkis club got promoted back to highest league. Their player budget is smallest, about 400 000 euro. They have now played 3 games and just won their first game against Haka away. They actually played that game with same colors as Norwich and I suppose there is some business co-operation between Norwich and Kotka. If someone is interested those games highlights can be found in youtube Haka-KTP 0-3. KTP has been last placed in every predictions, last 1 gets relegated and second last heads to relegation/promotion qualification. I kind of see mutual things with Norwich and surviving fight will be to both huge and difficult. They have estonian manager/coach who has done brilliant job just like Farke has done.
So as you can see league football has same problems everywhere outside MLS, which has salary cap. UEFA brings happiness to few clubs which gets to playing international cup games, by those prize moneys they are guarantee to keep their places forever. UEFA prize money should be split between all clubs in league.
Who would want to win a major trophy on a decision like that?
Too many people.
We complain about the Super League but the spirit of the game has gone.
It seems that entertainment is ruined deliberately by any technicality they can find. It was an awful game until the last few minutes.
Tim Ball says
I texted Marty after the FA Cup final Gary and just put ” Celebrated like in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s”
I couldn’t agree more that had Chelsea won their celebrations would have been just going through the motions.
Since 1991 only Everton, Portsmouth and Wigan have broken the supposed “top 6” in winning the FA Cup.
To me the FA Cup has lost a lot of it’s magic. I can still remember Neil Young’s winner when Manchester City beat Leicester in 1969the last time the foxes were there. Those days the FA Cup final was massive. The build up started around 10.00pm !!!
But yesterday seeing the sheer joy in the Leicester players faces, going mad at the final whistle I felt like a little boy again. Too many time these days a “top 6” club wins it and its just handshakes all round.
I hate VAR but it would have been awful for such a great clubman like Wes Morgan to be remembered for the own goal that stopped Leicester winning the FA Cup.
And at least it was the Chelsea guy’s head that was offside and not like others someone’s hand/arm. Teemu’s v Spurs anyone 🤦♂️ Look at the shadows guys.
I agree as well Gary that we will have to pass the ball a lot quicker from the back, something that improved massively in Daniel’s second season. But the Premier League is a cruel beast, if we faff around with it other teams will smell blood.
I am like you a little bit worried on the subject of a lack of strength in the side. We got bullied so often last time in the Premiership and it was that and a lack of pace that did for us.
But If we can see this I am sure Daniel and Stuart are well on top of this. Those guys and Neil Adams will be very busy this summer.
All the very best for the summer Tim
Cannock canary says
The lesser of two evils, Leicester have an extremely questionable set of finances that helped them get promoted in the first place. Not sure how they got away selling sponsorship rights enabling them to buy the likes of Marez and Vardy