Month: April 2014

The Leicester City Alternative End of Season Awards for 2013-14

The Claridge Shin ‘Scenes of the Season’ Award

Scenes… Kasper spares Leicester’s blushes

After a flurry of late goals this campaign there are plenty of contenders for ‘scenes of the season’. Contenders included Dyer’s late strikes to take ties against Bolton Wanderers and Fulham to 4–3, Danny Drinkwater’s stunning late equaliser against Watford and Andy King’s rocket at Bloomfield Road. But this year’s recipient is Kasper Schmeichel’s ‘goal’ against Yeovil.

Of course, the records state that Chris Wood was the man that netted City’s dramatic last-gasp leveller at home to the Glovers this March but those there, know the truth of how The Foxes keeper headed the ball on to the cross bar and over the line before the Kiwi made it count. As the goals hit the net or fell visibly over the line, whichever you prefer, the King Power Stadium erupted as the unbeaten run was kept alive. It may have ‘only’ been against Yeovil but the Glovers’ spoiling tactics were providing the Foxes with a real test that only a Great Dane had the answer to.

The Dennis Wise ‘Twunt of the Year’ Award

 

No photos… Billy Davies unfinished business of making Forest completely crap was finally completed.

After some intense deliberation (inside my own head), there were only a few stand-out candidates for this award. Harry Redknapp and Joey Barton’s futile attempts to unsettle City’s promotion bid weren’t successful enough for either to scoop the award. Yet another trophy to elude Rangers this season. The Football League could too take a roasting for their inability to correct the aforementioned goal farce against Yeovil Town and Pavel Pogrebnyak made a late charge for the dong with his amateur dramatics on Monday night. But the winner simply has to be the head of Britain’s biggest bottling job 30 miles north of Filbert Way, Billy Davies.

Injuries, injuries, bad referees. Baggy-eyed Billy Davies is an odious little prick. Let’s not beat around the bush, nobody likes him. In the rare event of a disappointing result, Foxes fans have found solace in the circus taking place at Nottingham Forest this year, who failed once more to ‘show us how to win the league’. Billy’s bottlers lie just 31 points behind their local non-rivals and of course that’s the referee’s fault for allowing 10-man Leicester to deservedly leave the City Ground with a point. Nae comment.

The Filbert Fox ‘Foxiest Fox Of The Year’ Award

Thumbs up… Kasper gets fans’ tails up

This award is strictly for the ladies and gays or indeed any admirer of the male form. Plenty lay a claim to the award this season, David Nugent remains ever popular as does the unfathomable cuteness of Anthony Knockaert. But neither did enough to take first place. In fact, not even the emerging beauty of pretty-boy Matty James is enough to take the gong from Belvoir Drive’s resident stud, Kasper Schmeichel.

Is this a surprise? Probably not, he’s always been a strapping man, and with the addition of facial hair well… well… there’s not much more to say at all. Just take 30 seconds or minutes to stare and take the full beauty of this Nordic God in.

 

The Frank Sinclair ‘Comedy Goal of the Year’ Award

Bullet… Wood’s stunner won worldwide acclaim.

The own-goal for City against Derby, Nugent’s first against Derby at home, blah blah blah. Now, the other ‘contenders’ are out of the way we can swiftly award this prestigious title to Chris Wood.

Ironically, the New Zealand international’s goal at Burnley would go down as one of the actual best of the season but was it better than his crunching header at Watford from all of 18 yards? I don’t think so. Manuel Almunia provided a stunning assist to allow Wood to expertly adjust his position and plunge his head forward in the space of milliseconds. Unfathomable skill, I’m sure you agree.

The Yann Kermorgant ‘Stupid Decision of the Year’ Award

For fox sake… Kasper makes an uncharacteristic error.

I know we’ve had very little to moan about this season (long may it continue) but that doesn’t mean our blue and white heroes haven’t been prone to the odd head-scratching error. Jamie Vardy’s reluctance to punish Yeovil whilst one-on-one with the keeper, mistaking himself as offside had fans slamming their heads in to their hands as if Sol Bamba was back and on one of his infamous midfield runs. But the winning moment is Schmeichel’s punch at Blackpool.

In truth, Kasper’s dropping the ball in to his own net at Donny, as if he’d been juggling butter and Durex play before the match could too have scooped the prize. However, it wasn’t quite as bad as Schmeichel’s ill-advised decision to lay the smack down on a Blackpool player in the 90th minute, costing City a penalty and ultimately two points. It also tarnished some pretty scenic scenes after King’s wonder strike 15 minutes before. Bloody hell, Kasper. You’re lucky you’re so gorgeous.

The Aman Verma ‘Signing of the Season’ Award

Algerian ace… Mahrez has been a bright spark since January.

As always with Pearson at the helm, his right-hand man Steve Walsh has produced some stunning signings for the Foxes. Despite their deceptive appearances silver foxes Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Kevin Phillips have possessed the attacking intelligence to win points. Polish brute Marcin Wasilewski has possessed the elbows defensive presence to force Liam Moore out of the starting XI and Dean Hammond too has contributed well when needed but this year’s recipient is silky Algerian, Riyad Mahrez.

Leicester have been missing FLAIR and PASHUUNNNN since Danns left to join Bolton on loan (I’m being totally facetious) but Riyad Mahrez fills the gap nicely. Mahrez’s pace, attacking vision and his capability to score goals like ‘that one’ against Blackpool have earned him many admirers in just a few short weeks.

The Alan Birchenall & Tony Currie ‘Romantic Moment of the Season’ Award

Don’t Sell Knockaert… Tony K sends Leicester up.

The romance of Kasper’s goal against Yeovil Town pales in to insignificance against two classic Tony K moments. It’s hard to pick between his goal at Watford and his goal against Sheffield Wednesday but the latter just pips the other to the post.

It was overwhelmingly satisfying to see Leicester’s favourite Frenchman vanquish his demons as Knockaert scored the second goal of Leicester’s rout at Vicarage Road. The cute little bastard stormed over to the away end celebrating, surrounded by every single outfield team mate. As they returned to the pitch, Knockaert looked up once more at the travelling City fans and kissed the shirt’s famous badge. Knockaert’s goal against Sheffield Wednesday was typically even more poetic of football. Having not scored in a fair old while, it seemed only right that the same man who had inadvertently caused so much heartbreak the year before was the one that had given the Foxes their return to the top flight. Majestic stuff.

The Andy King ‘We Forgot That You Were Here’ Award

Cakewalk… The Foxes win promotion with 6 games to spare.

In truth this award should justly go to the noisy swarms of Watford, Forest and Derby fans after May 12th last year. However, I am going to go ahead and award this to every single club in the league.

Let’s be honest, it’s been a relatively comfortable season for Leicester ever since Boxing Day and even the most ungracious of fans would struggle to ignore our dominance in the second half of the campaign. So thanks to all the other 23 clubs for propping us up this season. I hope not to see any of you any time soon.

We are Premier League!

Bottles are strewn everywhere, party streamers litter the floor and thirty thousand headaches are felt across Leicestershire as Jamie Vardy’s party started three days earlier than planned.

Results on Saturday, accompanied by a 2–1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday saw Leicester City end their painful decade of exile from the top-flight. It wasn’t how we wanted to go up but how could we complain? Almost a year after what can only be described as the cruelest play-off defeat in football history, the Foxes sewed up promotion with an incredible six games to spare. Fans around the country went berzerk. The players took to the city to get intoxicated and Pearson, well, Pearson probably did the same in some sleepy Shropshire village.

Move over, Ellen... The squad celebrate promotion with a selfie

Move over, Ellen… The squad celebrate promotion with a selfie

To many, City’s inevitable return to the top flight will not be a big deal. Some will say it had been merely a formality for City to go up, that other clubs have spent longer trying to get back to the promised land. But in truth, Leicester’s jubilation was not measured in time last night rather the pain that had foregone this memorable day. Since City’s last relegation in 2004, the Foxes sunk lower and lower in the second tier before finally being relegated to League One for the first time in their history. City are known for being ‘bridesmaids of football’ – we’ve never won the FA Cup, we’ve never won the league, we’ve come as close as you can get but we’ve never done it. It was a badge of pride for us that City had never left the top two divisions, a club now restricted to just eight sides, so to lose that was a big deal – the club’s lowest ever point. Manager chopping Mandaric astutely brought in Nigel Pearson and ironically, Leicester’s lowest ebb produced one of the club’s best seasons for years. Champions with 96 points.

Despair… Foxes fans see the club at its lowest

The next season too was a dream for the Foxes. Whilst not the best squad on paper, Pearson’s ability to instill character in to his sides helped City along the way to securing an unlikely play-off place. Leicester played out an enthralling play-off semi-final against Cardiff that ended 3-3 on aggregate after two legs and after extra time. Penalties awaited and things were all square until Yann Kermorgant, a player who had featured very little in the rest of the season, arrogantly chipped the ball, for it to be easily swatted away. City went on to lose. A stunning comeback for Leicester ended in the cruelest fashion. Signs were good for the Foxes, who were now backed by current owners, the Srivdhannaprabbhas. The owners were willing to ring the changes and spend to get the Foxes back to the top. Leicester City were bombarded with media talk for the next two seasons about how promotion would be merely a cakewalk with the new investment. However both Paulo Sousa and ex-England boss Sven Goran Eriksson failed to deliver, and too left City in a poor financial state.

The Srivdhannaprabbhas looked once more to Nigel Pearson to lead the Foxes out of a tough patch. Pearson up sticks and left the better-placed Hull City for a romantic return to Filbert Way. Pearson lead Leicester to 9th in the remainder of the 2011–12 season. His first full year back in charge saw City reach 6th, having been in poll position for automatic promotion as late as February. Pearson led City to a memorable 3–2 win at local rivals Nottingham Forest on the last day of the season, their first league triumph at the City Ground since 1972. As a result, Leicester nicked the last play-off spot at the expense of both Forest and Bolton Wanderers. In the first leg of the semi-final against Watford, Nugent scored a header to give Leicester the advantage. However, it was the second leg that would be the more memorable. The aggregate score was 2–2 going in to the 90th minute, Anthony Knockaert was judged to have been fouled, giving Leicester a penalty and a chance to get to Wembley. The Frenchman stepped up and saw his penalty saved, allowing Watford to counter and Deeney score the sucker punch that sparked a pitch invasion from the Watford fans. Leicester players and fans collapsed to the ground in pure despair. Many saw that as Leicester’s best chance to return to the top flight with money looking tight and Financial Fair Play rearing its ugly head. But few envisaged City using this heartache as the catalyst for a record breaking 2013–14 (I did…sort of).

Allez les bleus… Knockaert was Leicester’s hero once more.

This season has been a blast. Leicester have taken the league by the scruff of their neck. From the get go, Leicester have looked to rid the monkeys on their back starting with Middlesbrough away on the opening day, it was a crucial for City to recover from a play-off hangover as quickly as possible and they did with a scintillating second half comeback. The Foxes too went back to Vicarage Road and exorcised their demons with a 3–0 drubbing, complete with a stunning volley from Anthony Knockaert. The character from the squad is, for me, the reason why Leicester find themselves promoted with a month of the league campaign to spare. Late points won against Birmingham, Bolton, Leeds, Forest, Blackpool, Yeovil, Wigan and Watford (ha) have gone a long way to sewing up promotion – proving the mantra “Foxes never Quit!” to be nothing but true.

This season has been a dream come true. Foxes of this generation, myself included have had so little to shout about. It was only fitting that Anthony Knockaert was the man to send the Foxes up after his shortcomings at Watford last season. His character was rewarded as he took to Twitter to boast about “the best day in his life”, the day Leicester made it back to the big time. And with a manager as successful as Nigel Pearson, a young, hungry squad likely to improve and owners willing to do all they can, there is no reason why the Foxes can’t establish themselves. So maybe we haven’t had to wait as long as for this as say Wednesday or Forest but we have been through the mill these last 10 years and yesterday, all of a sudden the pain we felt at Stoke, Cardiff and Watford was worth it for this moment. So let’s pack Filbert Way on Tuesday night. Get out the blue and white, turn up the Status Quo and pour a Singha beer because Jamie Vardy’s having a party – and you’re all invited!

How 9 Years of Television Were Destroyed in 43 Minutes

Kids, let me tell you the story of how nine years of pretty solid television was undone in a catastrophic forty five minutes of nonsense…

Did I lose a slap bet to Carter Bays and Craig Thomas? Because it feels like it. How I Met Your Mother, one of my favourite TV shows signed off last Monday night with it’s long-awaited series finalé.  Fans had waited for years and years to see Ted Mosby finally meet the mother of his children and we did. However, we also got the ending that nobody wanted to see. Ted still somehow ended up with Robin.

I never anticipated that the final episode could go so horribly wrong but it did and for several different reasons; Firstly, the swift and lazy dismantling of Robin and Barney’s marriage was thoroughly unsatisfying. The viewers had spent the last three or four seasons accepting that Robin and Barney, and the vast majority felt Barney was the best match for Robin. Even those who did prefer Robin and Ted’s relationship seemingly accepted that they were destined for other people. However, Robin and Barney ran in to one small spot of bother and poof, they were divorced. The problem of travelling too much is easily repairable but instead they split. We then must question why on earth we had to sit through twenty two tedious and quite frankly below par episodes based around the weekend of their wedding, only for them to break up ten television minutes afterwards.

Major disappointment… Most HIMYM fans felt let down by the show’s ending.

What was even more upsetting was the undoing of Barney’s transformation. For years, viewers had watched Barney evolve from an insatiable conniving ladies’ man in to a devoted husband who chose love over an endless string of one night stands. Even if they had to split him and Robin up, they didn’t have to make him return to his sleazy ways. But in truth, Barney ending up with Robin made sense – two people with emotionally distant or physically distant fathers, hardened and immune to love, coming together and living the happy home life they scarcely got as youngsters. But that was torn apart by Bays and Thomas to make way for Ted, to have two loves of his life and have Barney shafted with a rashly thought through consolation of a love child.

Robin’s character too was tarnished by the episode. Robin is was actually my favourite character because she uprooted stereotypical women on sitcoms. She wasn’t needy and lovelorn and desperate to settle in to traditional married life. Instead she was strong-willed, empowered, career driven and hardy. Well, that was true until the finalé, where we’re supposed to believe that she spent years and years pining after a man who’s neediness Robin surely couldn’t stand nor logically be harmonious with.

It wasn’t only that Barney and Robin ending up together seemed so right, it’s also that Ted and Robin being together seemed so wrong. For years, Robin and Ted engaged in a thoroughly exhausting on again off again relationship. We had seen why they were incompatible despite their strong connection and as harsh as it was, it made sense – it was real, it was authentic. We saw them both hold an unrequited love for the other but the romance ran it’s course. We were led to believe that Robin had moved on, and even Ted did eventually. The viewers were comfortable knowing that although they were good together, they both had their ‘true loves’ to come in Barney and the Mother.

Undermined… The Blue French Horn trumped the Yellow Umbrella

And speaking of the mother, how bad was her treatment in the show’s ultimate episode? The fans spent nine long years waiting to meet Ted’s perfect woman, year after year they theorised and built up their collection of clues to try and untangle the mystery behind this perfect woman that would finally save Ted from the wilderness years of unfulfilling singledom. But no, instead she was treated like a rented womb. It was bad enough that she had only appeared in half of season nine’s episodes but having her die, and in the manner she did was nigh on ridiculous. This was the titular character that fans had waited for – and she just croaked in a hospital bed. There was barely even a touching monologue where Ted had to let go, just “Your mother is sick…she died. Now, I can go back to screwing my best friend’s ex-wife.” The fans had grown to love her, she fit the group well and she was perfect for Ted. Her fate seemed unjust and simply wrong. Having her become a side note to Robin was the ultimate insult to her character. Why was the show given this title anyway?

Many took to Twitter to air their disbelief and dissatisfaction at the show’s poorly thought out climax. However a scattering of ‘HIMYM hipsters’ profess that those not happy with the ending merely didn’t get the meaning of the show. Which is nonsense, given the title and the creators’ comments about Ted and Robin in Season One; “this isn’t the love story we set out to tell.” – which evidently was a lie. Even Cobie Smulders said that the finale was “beautiful” and “true to real life” but I for one am struggling to see what is more true to life about having your wife die and then going after your best friend’s ex-wife, who is already your twice failed girlfriend. Surely, it’s more true to life that Ted only had a working relationship with the Mother and not Robin. Despite their connection, it sometimes just doesn’t work out between people for one reason or another. Surely that’s the truth? Instead of that, Ted got two great loves, Barney got none and the Mother got a long, arduous, untimely death.

I don’t buy in to the fact that the closing scenes with Ted’s kids being filmed in 2006 dictated the show’s ending. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas should have known better than to let that alter the show’s climax. Whether or not they were reluctant to change their mind, they should have realised that ending just simply didn’t work with what How I Met Your Mother had evolved in to over the last nine years. And as a result, fans are disillusioned, reluctant to re-watch the show and a little bit heartbroken that the characters and story they had become so invested in was offered such a cheap and bathetic climax.