Now I don’t want to rain on our parade, but being a Leicester City fan I find I am a glass half empty kind of guy. It comes with following the club that I love for over 40 years.
Born in 1961 my first memory of watching Leicester City was on a black and white TV as they lost to Manchester City in the 1969 FA Cup Final. I missed what was then the almost years of the Matt Gillies era having a dad more interested in Big Daddy & Giant Haystacks than anything Filbert Street.
But it did mean that by the time I was able to go with my mates we were into the never to be forgotten Jimmy Bloomfield years. It was like watching Brazil with English results, ’cause whilst we played some of the best football in the land not unlike Brazil, we never actually won anything, a lot like England. But good times never the less, especially living across the road from Len Glover. Being able to take his red setter dog for walks remains one of my happiest childhood memories.
That was the 70s though and the, what was then seen as, successful years of the 70s was followed by the McLintock nine months of utter disaster. We saw a good team mercifully ripped apart. OK this may be putting it at its crudest, but it kinda sums it up.
Jock Wallace & Brain Little were to bring back some happy times and brief flirtations with making City an established top flight club, but that honour would ultimately go to a loveable Irishman in the mid-90s.
What Martin O’Neill achieved is written in Leicester City folklore, and following him when he moved to Celtic was never going to be an easy job for anyone.
But, do you remember October 2000? Less than four months after the appointment of O’Neill’s successor we sat atop the Premier League, the first time we had been at the summit of the top league of English football since 1963 when the aforementioned Matt Gillies was in charge.
Two weeks we were there, thanks to an international break. But pride comes before a fall, and boy did we fall.
Peter Taylor, respected as a coach, but failed constantly as a manager, took over from O’Neill and it was with the latter’s team in all but name that Taylor took us to the summit with. All was going well before, dare I say it, Taylor started to ‘tinker’.
Once again we saw the dismantling of a good team and over two seasons Taylor had destroyed what O’Neill had created. Actions that would lead the club we loved into administration and years in the wilderness.
Once again we waited years for a manager to arrive that could rebuild our club. The Mandaric years, as expected, added a revolving door to the managers’ office. Even having an ex-England boss at the helm in Sven Goran-Erikkson could not provide the answer, but did provide a period of long forgotten excitement and media attention.
But after the new owners realised big names don’t always guarantee big success, especially in, what is let’s be honest, a really tough second tier of English football, the in, out, in period of Nigel Pearson’s reign took our club from the depths of the third-tier back to the top table of English Football. Whatever your thoughts are on Pearson, and he was a Marmite manager, what he did for our club should never be forgotten.
His last year will be remembered for his off the field actions as much as his on field success, but his departure left us with the nucleus of a team that could maybe go on to replicate the O’Neill years.
The media hype surrounding his replacement was unparalleled, with every day bringing a new favourite to get the job, with Claudio Ranieri eventually being given the nod.
His appointment was greeted with a mixed reaction from the fans, even worse from the so called experts, the ‘tinkerman’ knew he had a tough job on his hands. Would he go the same way as Frank McLintock & Peter Taylor? I accept that sometimes squads need to be overhauled and managers leave when they know this is the case leaving their successors with a minefield of a job, take Alex Ferguson & David Moyes as an example of that.
But this was not the case with McLintock & Taylor, and whilst, again, I accept that new managers want to bring in their own players, it should never be at the detriment of the team they have inherited.
So for the first two weeks of the new season we have sat atop the EPL on the Saturday night. The new manager it seems not living up to his nickname as he makes very few changes. But time will tell if this is a short term action or not. Why change what is not broken as they say.
As I write this the new signings are being met with a general consensus of support, although the one new boy that has gone straight into the side, Okazaki, was in fact a Pearson target.
But will Ranieri buck the trend of managers following on from successful ones and take us to that next level, or follow in McLintock & Taylor’s footsteps and take us back down a level.
Personally I don’t think history will repeat itself, but then again I am the world’s worst football predictor, ask my son.
Watch this space……