Saturday 21 April 2018

Off the Ball: Leicester could easily do a Spieth in most illogical of seasons

Jamie Vardy (Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Jamie Vardy (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Ger Gilroy

Once again it seems everything we know is wrong. Leicester were supposed to drop points at Sunderland because all logic suggests they must stop winning games at some point.

The games like these where the opposition surrender possession and force Leicester to be creative were the ones that they'd struggle most with, or so logic told us.

But the defiance of logic has been the over-riding characteristic of everything that's happened in the 12 months since Leicester were bottom of the table.

They shouldn't have been able to survive relegation.

That's before the various racism scandals which enveloped the team. They survived the one that ultimately cost them the manager who engineered the miracle escape and they survived the one that brought shame on their main forward in the pre-season for abusing an Asian man in a casino weeks after it was revealed his new strike partner would be an Asian superstar.

The Thai owners had shown zero tolerance to the manager but somehow Jamie Vardy got a pass and everyone moved on.

It's illogical too how most of their players have avoided the injury plagues that have hit most of their rivals.

It's illogical that their manager can oversee one of the worst runs in international football history for Greece and pick up in the Premier League like he has.

It's illogical that all of the league's super powers would have their worst seasons in ages at the same time.

So partly this is a lesson for us all that chance plays a way bigger role in sport than we'd like to admit. The glorious uncertainty of sport, my da used to say. Then analytics improved to the point where outcomes are largely predictable based on a thousand different factors.

Until that is Leicester come along and people are scratching their heads. Maybe it's the aberration that makes us all tune in again before results regress to the mean where the single most important thing is the money spent on wages. It's been a ludicrous story, full of crazy luck, bravado and pure chance.

Of course the logical thing now is that Leicester will win. Logic dictates that a seven-point lead with five games left is enough. Particularly when their opponents include Everton and Swansea and when Spurs have to go to Chelsea and Stoke.

That's why this season doesn't feel over. Tears from Ranieri were touching this week, but if Leicester pull a Jordan Spieth on it will it look so endearing?

Leicester might have been watching Spieth and feeling a bit squeamish. People are full of theories about what happened Spieth and the likelihood is there's merit in all of them and warnings to be heeded too.

But it's a reminder to everyone in glorious technicolour that only when you've got the jacket or the cheque or the trophy is when you can fully celebrate the win.

Even if Spurs were to beat them now Leicester's illogical season has been a magnificent reminder of the power of the underdog.

It'd feel like a monumental collapse but illogically Spurs aren't done yet.

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