Here at Balls.ie, we often receive strange emails, but rarely have we received something as odd as the following dispatch, which was dated exactly five years in the future from today, in the year 2021. The author, whose name we have chosen not to publish to protect his safety, claims to be a Leicester City fan, and he has worrying news for both hardcore and bandwagon Foxes fans about what happens to the club following this dream season. He has not responded to requests for comment about what happens to Donald Trump.
To whom it may concern,
Back in the spring of 2016, I was in the angst-ridden stages of secondary school, and was forced to make a load of life-defining decisions. In a bid to fit in with the other guys in my school, I decided I had to like football. It soon became apparent to me that I would need a team to whom I could attach blind and unstinting loyalty, rather than actually being able to enjoy the sport.
Such was the paucity of my knowledge, I decided to support the best team in England. I figured that's what most did. This also unburdened me from having to make an actual decision, and instead could surrender myself to the sweet, sweet exculpation of circumstance. Leicester City were coasting to the Premier League thanks to what an "aptly-named sports site" entitled Balls.ie described as being down to the "the indomitable heart of Wes Morgan, the ubiquity of N'Golo Kanté, the avuncular tutelage of Claudio Ranieri and Jamie Vardy's remarkable ability to play alongside a Japanese footballer".
With Leicester evidently the best team in the world, supporting them seemed the greatest non-decision I could make. Thus I began the process of falling madly in love with a football team: I bought a replica shirt, joined a local supporters group with whom I could attend games, and opened a twitter account which I could use to mercilessly abuse anyone who disagreed with my opinion of the football world.
Soon I realised that Leicester had spent a totally anomalous 132 years without winning the Premier League prior to 2016, and that my maiden season in support of them was, in fact their first in the Champions League. Very strange. My first season was a crushing disappointment. We failed to win the league - finishing second to Liverpool - and embarrassingly crashed out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals to Barcelona. The tie's decisive goal was scored by Riyad Mahrez, who left Leicester for Barca that summer. I remember chanting 'Judas' at the television.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 10, 2016
It was a troubled season. Danny Drinkwater was suspended for being caught consuming alcohol at a wedding the week of the Barca game, having assured Ranieri that he would merely drink water. The player later claimed there had been a breakdown in communication. Jamie Vardy removed himself from the squad after the Champions League exit, citing a willingness to backpack Nepal, believing it to be a crucial step in his personal rehabilitation.
With I and the rest of the Leicester supporters used to success, Claudio Ranieri was rightly sacked for failing to win either the League or the Champions League, and was replaced by former Leicester manager Martin O'Neill. O'Neill seemed the right appointment: he had won silverware with Leicester in the past and his stock was high having won Euro 2016 with Ireland.
O'Neill's season began disastrously, with N'Golo Kanté sold to Real Madrid as a belated replacement for Claude Makelele, and Vardy failing to return from Nepal. O'Neill brought in Emile Heskey as assistant to help offer advice to remaining strikers Shinji Okazaki, Leandro Ulloa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Zlatan had been signed as a replacement for Vardy, and was handed a £500,000 per week, five-year contract to tempt him to the club. Unfortunately, Ibrahimovic refused to accept instruction from Heskey and went on strike.
The Zlatan situation was only resolved in November when Heskey stepped aside, and was replaced by Gary Lineker. Lineker was sacked by the BBC for tempting Mark Lawrenson into appearing naked alongside him on Match of the Day on the first day of the previous season.
YES! If Leicester win the @premierleague I'll do the first MOTD of next season in just my undies.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) December 14, 2015
This season was even more catastrophic. The club were excluded from the newly-founded European Super League, with UEFA president John Delaney explaining that the club were omitted as they were not a valuable proposition for television companies. The loss of income led the club to financial implosion, which when combined with squad dissent and the fact that Glenn Whelan proved to be an inadequate replacement for Kanté, saw Leicester slide down the league, ultimately finishing 15th.
It was an under-achievement for which O'Neill was sacked. The club faced financial meltdown as they were unable to pay Zlatan's wages, and a fire-sale followed, with the bulk of the squad offloaded at knock-down rates. (In a move beneficial for headline writers everywhere, Drinkwater joined Real Salt Lake). The club failed to shift Whelan, who remained at the club earning £250,000 per week.
Ultimately, the only man remaining from the title-winning season was Wes Morgan, who was then aged 34. O'Neill was replaced by another former manager, Nigel Pearson, who had recently hit the headlines for collecting an ASBO for a distressing altercation with an ostrich at London Zoo.
Pearson took over on the condition that his son be given a contract at the club. Sadly, his son failed to score a single goal all season, proving that the player was originally sacked partly because he was no good.
Pearson failed to turn the club around, and in March 2019 was suspended for the rest of the season for headbutting Manchester United manager Alan Pardew.
Ultimately, the club were relegated to the Championship in May 2019, just three years after winning the Premier League title. The club kept faith with Pearson, but the slide continued, and this week, April 2021 marked the club's return to League One, following a 4-1 defeat to Brentford.
I may have been hasty in choosing to support Leicester five years ago. I guess that it's true: whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first call promising.
I can't stick with Leicester now, so who should I support? Maybe Aston Villa, since they've just won the Premier League thanks to their inspirational captain, Jack Grealish.
Please heed the lessons of this cautionary tale.
Yours from the future,