Leicester City's amazing run to the Premier League title has caused the media one quite large problem. The Foxes had been champions-elect for weeks before eventually lifting the crown at the weekend, meaning that journalists have been forced to try and find a new, lengthy angle each week.
The Daily Mail's Martin Samuel has brought to light the extreme plight of the chief sports writer over the last few weeks, and his angle on the Leicester City celebrations proved to be utterly absurd. Presumably after an extended period of hand-wringing, Samuel settled down to write his column, where he decried the Leicester City players show of disrespect towards Claudio Ranieri when they burst upon his press conference to douse him in champagne.
Put it like this. They wouldn’t have done it to Sir Alex Ferguson or Fabio Capello, two of the names Ranieri drops in conversation when he talks about the greats of modern management.
These are the men he has strived all his professional career to emulate and now he will at last be mentioned in the same sentence. So respect is due. A little more respect than he was shown on Saturday, perhaps.
Some will look at the bubbly high jinks as another example of Leicester’s indomitable team spirit. This is what makes them special. This is why they are champions. It isn’t.
Samuel goes on to say that the team-spirit is not the reason they are champions, but it is entirely down to Ranieri himself. This is patent nonsense. When Ranieri arrived at the club, he saw a strong team-spirit and retained it. Rather than sacking all of Nigel Pearson's staff, he kept Steve Walsh and Craig Shakespeare, as he recognised the bond that had formed between players and staff the season previous in avoiding relegation. Furthermore, here are Ranieri's comments after the 3-1 win away to Man City in February:
We fight for each other on the pitch. We are 11 when we go on to the field and in all my career I don’t think I have known a team as strong at being together.
There is a further, more succinct rebuttal to Samuel's point, furnished by twitter user Josh Wright:
— Josh Wright (@_WrightJosh) May 9, 2016
That is the unmistakable sight of Roy Keane pouring champagne over Alex Ferguson after winning the league.
Samuel is undoubtedly a fine writer, but he has been writing some barmy things for a while. For example, he used a 'What's Hot and What's Not' column in November 2014 to confirm that, just in case anybody was unsure while rape is certainly not. Another column that sticks out is his absolutely mad call for Joey Barton to publicly announce he is a homosexual to solve football's taboo:
So here’s a thought. Joey Barton continues his quest for intellectual and social respectability. Why not come out as gay?
Instant credibility, instant respect, untouchable by the Football Association or future employers. His past misdeeds mentally reprocessed and explained.
‘Well, of course he put his cigar out in that bloke’s face, Gary. He was a tortured soul, forced to live a lie.’
And imagine the new material. A never-ending treasure trove for Barton’s Twitter feed: Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Lady Bunny.