Spectator sport

Leicester City are the most brutally efficient winners since 1970s Leeds

Plus: why Jamie Vardy: The Movie is having script problems, and the dazzling dancers of the Indian Premier League

30 April 2016

9:00 AM

30 April 2016

9:00 AM

It’s always good to see a great con trick in action. Take Boris Johnson: not really the lovable quick-witted scamp with a good line in Latin gags and a few problems in the trouser department, but a ruthless opportunist with a dreadful attitude to women and a strong line in extreme rudeness to visiting presidents. Not what he seems at all. I’m beginning to feel the same about Leicester City.

Wonderful story and all that: fairy-tale, Jamie Vardy, blah blah. Enough already. ‘Uncle’ Claudio Ranieri has brilliantly and charmingly pulled the wool over our eyes with his free -pizzas and ‘dingly-dong, dingly-dong’ stuff about waking up dozy players, all done in a comedy Italian accent straight out of a 1950s Sophia Loren flick. The reality is that Leicester are clearly the biggest bunch of lump-it-long, kick ’em high players since Billy Bremner’s Leeds circa 1972. And everybody knows it. They walloped a dismal Swansea at the weekend and at one point their powerful, speedy midfielder Jeffrey Schloop raced down the left, roared past a hapless Swansea defender and duly made the second goal. Up in the commentary box, they made the point that if any attacker had tried to do that to Leicester, central defenders Wes Morgan or Robert Huth would have made sure he ended up in Row Z.

As it is, Leicester will be the first team to take the title without one memorable performance — with the possible exception of their home victory over Liverpool, and that was really only a couple of good goals against a struggling side. It’s essentially a team put together by Nigel Pearson, one of the less likeable people to work in elite-level football: a triumph of brutality over the beautiful game, and just because it came cheap everyone swoons. Still, fair play. They are going to win the title with games to spare and it’s a great story.

Talking of which I wonder how Jamie Vardy: The Movie is going. Talk of a biopic of the former non-leaguer with a turn of speed and a quick temper has been doing the rounds. But there could be problems. ‘Well, Mr Spielberg, the second draft is looking pretty good. The casino scene? Where the hero shouts: “Jap. Yo Jap. Walk on. Oi, walk on. Yeah, you Jap. Walk on.” Yes, that has gone, Mr Spielberg, as you suggested. And the incident with the umpire? They call them referees over there, sir. When our hero appears to call him a very rude word and jabs his finger in his eye? That one? Yes, that’s gone too, sir. We want a feelgood story here.’

Holy guacamole, as Matty ‘Haydos’ Hayden would have it, the Indian Premier League is back, bigger and better than ever. And so are the dancers. Not bigger, though. How do you become an IPL dancer? Are there talent scouts? As we know from Strictly, the best dancers are eastern European, so probably don’t know the rules of T20 too well, but who’s worried? Do they look for people who couldn’t quite cut it at the Bolshoi? Or are they from the world of table, lap and pole? I like to think there’s a T20 Dance Corporation dishing out central contracts. The Caribbean Premier League would be tempting to some, though attracting top talent to the Quetta Gladiators franchise in the Pakistan League might be a stiffer task. It’s a whole new tasselled world out there for the girls with the moves.

The Grim Reaper has been having a helluva season. Cliff Michelmore at 97 was the equivalent of tap-in by the far post with the keeper stranded, but Prince at 57 was a bicycle kick into the top left-hand corner from the edge of the box. One can’t help but wish the diminutive superstar had expired at the same time as Ronnie Corbett. An enterprising undertaker could surely have laid these little maestros toe-to-toe in the same coffin, thereby saving more of our planet’s precious resources.

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  • Paul Peach

    Boring boring Leicester, the London media sour grapes have started. Heard all the long and lump it nonsense under Oneil from a bitter media. Yet all your teams are coveting our players as they are better than yours. Well sorry cut and paste hacks (ever used news now?) Leicester city will be champions because they are the best team in the land, better than arsenal tottenham and the hammers, get used to it!

  • Bradley Johnson

    “Without a single memorable performance” – I guess going 3-0 up away at man city doesn’t count then? And Mahrez, the PFA player of the year, is a big brute who loves to play route one?

    This whole piece is just being deliberately controversial. Snore.

  • Kev

    Lol…what a truly awful article.
    What about the gunners winning 1-0 all those years turning out ‘memorable performance’ after another! NOT,
    What about Roy Keane and Steve Bruce..kicking lumps out of the opposition in United’s triumphs.
    What about the Chelsea team under Jose..grinding out wins, boring us to death and John Terry at his ruthless best.
    Sorry..but the Foxes have what it takes..
    A ruthless streak is crucial to win a title..
    To say no memorable performances is just absolute codswallop.
    There have been many…but the one that stunned the Premier League was the 3-1 win at the Etihad which frankly could and probably should have finished 6-0 (the City goal was offside)
    Whoever wrote this article has a distorted, rose tinted view of the world.
    Get real!

  • Simon Hudson

    Complete Nonsense written to provoke.As Bradley said the 3-0 away to Man City was a truly memorable performance that announced Leicester as title contenders. I can only presume the author has spent his research time trawling forums for second hand opinions rather than watching matches.

    • Fraser Bailey

      Actually I think it was 3:1 at Man City. But, as you say, a great performance on the day.

      I suggest that the city of Leicester boycotts The Spectator in the way that the city of Liverpool has boycotted The Sun.

    • overbeefed

      You have to sit back and admire the way that sentence is rendered immune to argument, though. Raise the 3-1 win against Man City – rightly – as a memorable performance and of course Alton’s irrefutable reponse will be “I didn’t remember that one”.

  • Zhang Wei

    Good but not as good as Atletico Madrid, who are surely one of the greatest defensive sides of all time.

  • Freddythreepwood

    I am astonished that this twaddle has appeared in the Spectator. I have never read such a disgraceful piece of so-called sports journalism. The pillock who wrote it should be thrown out on his ear.

  • Freddythreepwood

    Spurs fan are we, Roger?

  • Shahril Kem


  • Geo

    I’d rather that any team won the PL except Man U and Chelsea, whatever style of football they play. There are no prizes for the number of passes. According to the rules of the game, Leicester are the best team in England, and it’s as simple as that.

  • Freddythreepwood


    Suck on those sour-grapes Roger.

  • Yorkieeye

    What a shame to have chosen someone with an axe to grind to commemorate a victory almost universal approved

  • Jingleballix

    What a load of B&T old cobblers………not even funny – where it was meant to be.

    Besides, the gratuitous insult to one of the top-10 league teams the country has ever seen is pretty disgraceful.

    All in all……..one of the worst pieces I have ever seen in the Speccie.

  • 1234567890

    ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz…Mr. Alton, you’ve striven & failed to gin up interest. All I can say is…Tally-ho & UTF!

  • Fraser Bailey

    What a dismal and inaccurate piece, unworthy of The Spectator. Well, unworthy of The Spectator that I grew up with anyway. I have barely watched Leicester because I didn’t want to jinx them (I watched the away game at Arsenal, which they lost). But I have caught up with the goals on YouTube, and this morning I watched all of Jamie Vardy’s goals. They scored a lot of good goals – Vardy’s volley against Liverpool being one of the best you will ever see.

    They are 10 points ahead of Arsenal, and even further ahead of Man City and Man Utd. They are a massive 22 points ahead of Liverpool, and their goal difference is substantially better than most of these teams. They have only lost three games all season, a feat to equal Fergie and Mourinho at their most successful.

    A triumph of consistency, teamwork and no little quality over arrogance and money. And if Leicester can win, so can Brexit.

    • HJ777

      I’m a Spurs fan but it has to be said that Leicester deserve to win the PL. And congratulations to them.

      This article is off the mark but it is right in one respect – Leicester have been brutally efficient. They wouldn’t have achieved that string of 1-0 victories just when they needed them had they not been. But it has been an intelligent brutal efficiency illuminated by some brilliant and consistent performances from previously unsung players throughout the season – nobody apart from Arsenal worked out how to counter them effectively.

      Next season – who knows? The traditional top teams will be coming back strongly. Spurs have done amazingly well this season with very young players who will have another season of experience behind them next. Can Leicester repeat their performances of this season? It’s hard to see it, but then this season was a huge surprise. Next season could be even more fascinating.

  • James Chilton

    I understand the people of Leicester have stayed up all night and wept.

    • Father Todd Unctious

      Including the 70,000 Muslims, 60,000 Hindus, 10,000 Sikhs. One of our most ethnically diverse cities.With 35% foreign born.
      A great example of living in harmony and a great reason to vote Remain.

      • pobjoy

        A great example of living in harmony

        An example of accepting anyone, as long as they are wrong.

      • grammarschoolman

        So where are they in the Leicester City first team? A great example of politically correct irrelevance, more like.

        • Father Todd Unctious

          The squad has two Danes, two Ghanaians, an Argentine, an Algerian, a Japanese. How many Mancunians play for ManUtd?
          The support comes from the local community. Unlike Man UTtd where it comes from Hong Kong and Dubai.

          • grammarschoolman

            The same as every other PL team, then. None of those Sikhs, none of those Hindus and the only Muslim is from Algeria via Paris and Le Havre. The ‘harmony’ nonsense is completely irrelevant to the football team, just as it would be if anyone else had won.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Oh another nasty jibe from the Nasty party.

          • grammarschoolman

            In what sense? I’m merely pointing out the factual truth: the nature of Leicester is entirely irrelevant to the success of its football team.

            In any case, there’s only one Nasty Party in British politics and that’s the Naz-ty Party of Bradford and Islington.

  • Goinlike Billio

    Well Roger Alton has won his bet. He has managed to introduce guacamole and Cliff Michelmore and a few other words into an article about football and get it past the editor.
    Not a great effort I have to say. It is almost completely meaningless but you did it. Triples all round !