I woke up way too early Sunday morning, so that I could travel with my friends to Fado Irish Pub in Buckhead, so we could celebrate the final day of the Barclays Premier League season. “Celebrate” is a loose term. One friend supports Southampton, who, pending results, could qualify for Europa League. Another friend supports Manchester United, and the less said about the “bomb,” the better. At least they have the FA Cup final to look forward to, which has been my rallying cry the past two years.
As a Gooner, I wondered which set of circumstances would prevail on the day: #Arsenalesque, or #ThatsSoSpursy. The former is a reference to the chapter about the 1980 FA Cup Final in the book, Fever Pitch, written by Nick Hornby. I have turned the term into a catch-all for when Arsenal does something only they could do–good or bad. The latter hashtag was the brainchild of the Men in Blazers, which honors Tottenham Hotspur’s unparalleled ability to brain fart in the face of achievement.
Going into the Premiership season, Leicester City were a 5000-1 shot to lift the trophy. What are the odds? I am happy they are champions, for it is always nice to see a fresh face on the top step of the podium (the same goes for Max Verstappen). Some say that when you win one, the second is easier to come by. Others will see it as an anomaly. Only time will tell if they are a dynasty, or a one trophy wonder.
When Claudio Ranieri was hired as manager of Leicester, it was seen by many as an uninspiring choice. He could probably keep the club out of the relegation zone, but the best they could ever hope for is mid-table obscurity. Ranieri was no ones idea of a long term solution, since he usually got the sack sooner rather than later. When he was manager of the Greek National Team, they did the virtually impossible: They lost to Faroe Islands. At least it wasn’t San Marino.
That’ll get you shot.
I don’t know how Ranieri and Leicester City pulled this off. I’m waiting for the 30 for 30 documentary to explain it all. ESPN did try to come up with an American equivilent. The best I could come up with was Alan Kulwicki winning what was then the NASCAR Winston Cup in 1992. It’s not apples to apples, but both were severe underdogs. Many “better” drivers tried to copy Kulwicki’s formula for success, and failed. I wonder how many will try to copy Leicester.
If you had told me last July that during the upcoming football season, Chelsea would implode; Manchester City would underperform; Manchester United would finish out of the top four; and Liverpool would be Liverpool, I would have thought that Arsenal might just have a shot at the title. Who am I kidding? I would have put money on Leicester City before betting on the Gunners.
While Arsenal did finish second, it wasn’t close. In addition to winning the FA Cup Final in 2014 and 2015, the only other bright spot for us Gooners was St. Totteringham’s Day. That’s the day when Tottenham are mathmatically eliminated from finishing ahead of Arsenal. “Mathmatically eliminated” is the key phrase, for it is bad form to celebrate in late August. And yes, the traditional dish served on the day is lasagne.
At the end of the day, (and season) I could bemoan the fact Arsenal blew their best chance to win the Premiership in over a decade. But really, Leicester City were ten points better than the Gunners; it’s kind of sad. But to end on a positive note: Leicester were eleven points better than Spurs. That’s all kinds of yay.