All I keep reading in the news this week is, Ranieri claiming other clubs are still in the title race, it's as if he's trying to hold on to some myth that Leicester City will win it for no other reason than being worthy winners. Maybe in the fairy tale a lot of fans and pundits are spinning but not in my world, the real world of fact, not fantasy. Statistically we are still in the title race but Leicester City are going to have to lose 3 of their fixtures or draw most of them for Arsenal or Manchester City to stand a chance, even so Tottenham Hotspur are going to have to equally hit a brick wall. Even then Manchester City are going to have to win all our remaining fixtures to stand a chance.
Jamie Vardy cost £1 million + addons in 2012 and Riyah Mahrez cost £375.000 + addons, while they are low fees the truth of the matter is. It's cost, it's money, so in reality not one single professional club in the world can deny they have won anything without spending money. In fact Kasper Schmeichel cost them £1.5 million, Robert Huth £3.2 million, N'Golo Kante £6.8 million, Danny Drinkwater £1 million (from the Stretford Massive), Gokhan Inler £5.3 million, shinji Okazaki £8.5 million. Tell me they haven't tried to buy glory like the rest of us, I'll remind you you're delusional.
Fairy Tale you say? I'm not taking anything away from Leicester City, if they win the league then congratulations. They will be worthy winners for consistency alone but, it stops there because this is no fairy tale and the facts prove so. As far as their fans are concerned it may well be a fairy tale but, in the World of Football fairy tales are extremely rare. Now if Leicester City won the Champions League with the team they now have next season, then you will have yourselves a real fairy tale to tell your grand children.
All the usual top 5 of the Stretford Massive, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City have played out very poor seasons, under achieved massively. They can all point too vast injuries to playing staff and bad luck with match officials but, when it comes down to it that's only half the story.
I only really ever follow my own beloved club, rarely pay much attention too the others unless they're our immediate opponents, but I do follow Sport news avidly. So I'm well aware of at least the Stretford Massive, Manchester City and Arsenal suffering injuries to their key and best players.
Manchester City lost Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and then Kevin De Bruyne to injuries against Everton FC, yes I'm blaming Everton and their players. I remember well Gareth Barry and Muhamed Besic tag teaming Sergio Aguero causing his injury, the loss of all three players had all but destroyed Manchester City's fight for the title, the writing was on the wall early on in the season, but us seasoned Manchester City fans ever the optimists in the face of adversity clung on to hope. We've been without Samir Nasri the entire season and Pablo Zabaleta has been out with an injury also, Wilfried Bony is a total and utter failure, we've seen no return on his ridiculous transfer fee. The fact we've stayed in the title race for so long, is down to the rest of our depleted team fighting for it and it's been a tough one this season.
Outsiders and the media would have us believe we have the strongest squad in the league, two players in every position. What they don't see is players getting on in age, Zabaleta 31, Sagna 33, Clichy 30, Demichelis 35, Kolarov 30, Cabellero 34, Toure 32. Of all these 7 players, I'd only keep one if I were Guardiola, that player being Pablo Zabaleta.
What the media have failed to acknowledge are injuries to key players on top of that, not to mention that fact they have been reluctant to point their finger at Manuel Pellegrini. After all it's extremely hard to not like the guy, even if he was your enemy you'd still struggle to hate him.
When Manuel Pellegrini arrived I was excited by his track record of giving youth a chance, despite knowing it wouldn't be so many unlike his work at Malaga. After all he couldn't possibly do as badly as Roberto Mancini did in his last season in charge could he? I thought here we are getting a seasoned and experienced coach who's capable of fixing our problems, and that he did, he never let us down in that department. He steadied the ship and brought more success, all be it erratic and not unlike Mancini, but there's one thing we can not say and that is that they are or were failures. Both Mancini and Pellegrini both deserve respect despite their failing and shortcomings.
And Pellegrini's failure was to put faith in Wilfried Bony, no one on planet Earth with even the slightest intelligence can fail to admit Wilfried Bony has been Manchester City's biggest ever flop. That may sound harsh considering he came from one club playing a completely different style to another, but great players adapt and succeed and that there is the problem. Bony is not a great player and his statistics at Swansea City we're false, just like when the Stretford Massive played through Cristiano Ronaldo the season he scored 40 odd goals in the Premier League.
When we have a rising star in Kelechi Iheanacho on our bench, coming off our bench and scoring goals. Something Wilfried Bony has failed to do, It's criminal of Pellegrini to treat Iheanacho so poorly, He's proved himself time and time again to be worthy of a first team place, Pellegrini has constantly slapped the lad down. Iheanacho is a very humble kid and I find it refreshing listening to him when behind the reporters mic, if he keeps on working hard, improving then boy have we got a world class player on our hands.
I strongly believe had Pellegrini dropped Bony in place of Iheanacho, we would still be in the title race in a more healthy position.
We've also suffered by poor officiating in key title fighting games, like denied stone wall penalties against Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City of the incidents I recall. I'm sure there were more incidents but those stand out in the title race more than any. They can point to referee's only being human and claim that decisions balance out over the course of a season but, I don't buy that fiction one single bit. Poor officiating has this season played a huge part in negatively affecting our title fight.
The fact we stubbornly stayed in 4 competitions for so long also made a huge impact on our season, which was why Pellegrini sacrificed the FA Cup in the end as far as I'm concerned. Credit to our young lads though for putting up a valiant fight against Chelsea, for the first 45 minutes they made Chelsea look average.
But back to Ranieri and his opinion that other clubs are still in the title race, well he's right about Tottenham Hotspur but wrong about Arsenal and Manchester City. Is he trying to add more credit to his predicted title win? Yes I think so without a doubt, he's trying to paint it up as much as possible. After all no club wants to admit to winning the league because everyone else was rubbish and gifted it too them.
I'm not going to take anything from Manchester City's worthy players, they've done their best under the circumstances. I'm not going to get on Pellegrini's back and run him down because he's done enough to earn my respect. I'm not going to lambaste match officials for their failings, I'm just going to strike this season off as what it is. A season of fortune, fortunate to still be in the Champions League race, fortunate to win the League Cup and fortunate to still be alive and well to experience it all with my son.
Here's hoping to qualifying for the Champions League, looking forward to the arrival of Pep Guardiola and a brighter blue future.
Claudio Ranieri, pull your head out and see it for what it is, a strange season and probably your last chance saloon for success before you retire so don't try paint it for what it isn't and enjoy it while it lasts.