So pub quiz question time folks. What do Slade, Mud, Shakin’ Stevens, Johnny Mathis, Mr Blobby and Leicester City FC all have in common. They have all been number one at Christmas!!
For the younger readers, those named are artists who sat atop the charts with Christmas number one singles. This was before the days of X Factor killed off the Christmas charts or Chelsea and Manchester City had money. Maybe Chelsea fans would be more in tune with the 2000 Christmas topper of ‘Can we Fix it’ by Bob the Builder!
Ok, being number one in the Premier League at Christmas may not have the kudos of topping the BBC record chart at the same time but consider this; exactly 12 months ago we were at the opposite end of the table, rock-bottom. Unsurprisingly, we are the first club in EPL history to be bottom one Christmas, only to be top the same time the following year.
Twelve months ago, Leicester City were sat the foot of the Premier League table with just 10 points – five points from safety having just lost 2-0 away to West Ham United. Roll the clocks forward and we are top and nine points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United.
The collapse in form that was supposed to hit us this month, starting with the Manchester United game, has failed to materialise. Yes we were beaten, albeit only by the one goal by Liverpool, and with Manchester City to come before the year ends we will still go into the new year top four.
This time last year I was enduring the six-hour return trip (with a break for the obligatory full English) to watch my team lose every week, but when we did turn it around come April, boy the sweet taste of success tasted even sweeter. Surviving the way we did via the greatest of great escapes made staying up all so much better, but could I have dreamed of what was going to happen this season? No way!!
And that’s what makes the feeling of being where we are so much better. Suddenly everyone loves us. Are we not everyone’s favourite second team at the moment? It feels like it. Fans of clubs outside the so-called big five are wiling us to win the league. Pundits are queueing up at the humble pie counter. Double page spreads in the papers are multiplying daily and I walk into work every Monday morning with an extra spring in my step, and it feels good.
It may not last. We have yet to hit a dip in form, suffer from major injury blows, or be hit by a major suspension list. The January transfer window is just around the corner, but holding on to our key players may not be that difficult now. Being number one with a bit of cash behind us, we will probably not see our major stars leave.
As an Everton fan said to me last week; “You must be feeling great, you could fall to fifth and still be happy with your season.” But you know what? I wish it could be Christmas every day!!!