The Flying Foxes

04 May 2016 | Lloyd Hughes

After a brief hiatus, and due to popular demand (David said so) the Pic PR blog is back. Like a drunken phoenix staggering from the ashes with a bottle in hand, we’re back once again with the renegade master.

And to mark this revival, what better tale to turn to than that of Leicester City, a football team which has undergone a remarkable resurrection of its own.

Last season ‘the Foxes’ were on the cusp of Championship oblivion; a vulpine victim barely escaping the snapping jaws of the Premier League relegation pack.

Languishing for much of the season at the bottom of the table, the team somehow managed to claw its way back from the proverbial brink, narrowly escaping relegation to the yawning maw of the Football League.

Celebrations abounded, before some of the youth team took it too far, indulging in a (frankly appalling) racist orgy in Thailand that brought shame on the club and resulted in the sacking of then manager, Nigel Pearson, thanks primarily to the involvement of his son.

So like a fox escaping the hunting pack, only to be bludgeoned on the head by a vengeful farmer wielding a spade as it went to ground, it seemed like Leicester’s woes were far from over.

Just what would happen without the stewardship of Pearson? Relegation this time around seemed almost a certainty.

But no.

Step forward the tinkerman.

Claudio Ranieri earned this unfortunate sobriquet during his time at Chelsea thanks to his constant team changes, a period which saw his then 84-year-old mother berating him for not playing Damien Duff.

Unfairly kicked out during Abramovich’s coming to power, and against many of the fans’ wishes, the Premier League probably thought it had seen the last of the affable Italian as he disappeared into the shadows of the continent.

Upon his reemergence, his installment as Leicester City’s manager wasn’t met with universal acclaim (although I imagine a good few Leicester fans were pretty chuffed). How would a team in a relegation scrap cope with Claudio’s frequent tampering of the team sheet?

But the tinkerman had changed his ways. Now, a different epithet was in order.

Behold the Messiah!

Monday night saw the climax of what is perhaps one of the most enthralling and unexpected sporting triumphs of the modern era, as Leicester City went from barely surviving, to champions in the space of a single season.

It’s an unparalleled footballing achievement.

You can’t even compare it to Nottingham Forest winning the league and European Cup. As remarkable as Brian Clough’s managerial achievements were, they didn’t happen in an era of oligarchs and sheikhs. The late 70’s and early 80’s didn’t have the likes of Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour pouring obscene wealth into football teams.

There’s been no sporting triumph like it, and, I suspect, there won’t be again. At least in the foreseeable future – I don’t like to predict anything anymore.

Fairytales can come true, it would seem. It’s a PR fairytale for the Premier League, which has had the eyes of the world watching it to see if the impossible can be done. As a fan, this season has reinvigorated my love for the sport.

It’s also been a PR fairytale for the bookies. The ridiculous odds of it happening, means they’re facing big payouts over the next few days, but now every football fan worth their salt will be backing their team to win the league next year. £50 on Liverpool please, Paddy. Come on, Jurgen!