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Monday 26 September 2016

Leicester's win makes life difficult for bosses

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri leaves the San Carlo Pizzeria in
Leicester on Tuesday after winning the Premier League. Photo: PA
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri leaves the San Carlo Pizzeria in Leicester on Tuesday after winning the Premier League. Photo: PA

Nearly a week now to digest the incredible fact that Leicester City will be presented with the Premier League trophy tomorrow and the more I think about it, the better it gets.

I watched Manchester City make a disgracefully limp attempt to find a way to get a result against Real Madrid at the scrag end of a woeful season for the club and I can't help thinking about Leicester.

I see Aston Villa collapsing in front of my eyes and again, I think about Leicester.

I look at the circus which is Old Trafford at the moment and all I can think about is Leicester. Chelsea the same.

I think about Sam Allardyce's long moan about the fact that English managers can't get any of the big jobs and wonder what he would have done with Leicester if he had replaced Nigel Pearson.

Think about all of those years when Allardyce won very little and shouted a lot and you can readily answer that question.

There's no doubt, Leicester's win is making some of my least favourite people squirm and has ripped away the cosy excuse people like Allardyce have trotted out for years about the gap in resources between the big clubs and the rest.

Sure it exists and for a long time, money did talk in the Premier League but Leicester have forced everyone to stop and think about value for money.

Honesty

There's such honesty and I suppose, purity to what Claudio Ranieri and his players have done that any comparison made between another club and Leicester will look stark.

Hard questions should be asked at many clubs. Common sense should tell them there are clear lessons to be learned.

More likely, Leicester will also be used as a stick to beat managers across the Premier League and beyond by owners who won't allow them control of the transfer dealings yet expect success.

How odd it is to think that way. Leicester are now the standard everyone else must come up to and I don't envy managers trying to convince owners to buy players this summer.

If Leicester's win proved nothing else, it showed that a good recruitment operation is absolutely essential and that good scouting doesn't mean having Jorge Mendes on speed dial.

Steve Walsh is the man getting the credit for helping Nigel Pearson to build this squad and if he is the man with the golden touch, they should offer him whatever he wants to stay because he will get offers.

As the details of his role in this fairytale emerged, it also became obvious to me that somebody smart must be in charge behind the scenes because he stayed even after Pearson left.

It turns out that it's a woman from Dublin, Susan Whelan, with no background in football, who has played a big part in this success story as the club CEO.

It is interesting that I didn't know that until this week and I also knew next to nothing about the club's owners other than they are very wealthy and come from Thailand.

They have remained firmly in the background apart from the decision they took to sack Pearson which to be fair to them, had nothing to do with football.

I know that events involving Pearson's son in Thailand placed them in a very difficult situation.

But it still struck me at the time that this was another potentially flaky owner taking over an English club and to be honest, I didn't give them any further thought even when Leicester climbed to the top of the table.

We will see how they get on in the next few months. Maybe they think this title winning thing is easy now and if Leicester don't continue where they left off next season, they will show Ranieri the door.

That's not impossible but very unlikely in this case.

There is something wholesome and very satisfying about this achievement and my instinct is that Ranieri will be allowed do pretty much whatever he likes this summer.

I suspect Walsh probably has targets lined up and I don't think Leicester will be spending the kind of money Pep Guardiola will have to splash around to fix Manchester City.

It really is an enormous task for him and Leicester's win will send out ripples which make his and every other manager's job that little bit harder.

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