Thursday, February 23, 2012
If Leicester is a bigger club than Norwich then Richie Wellens is a future England international.
The Foxes’ skipper-for-the-day stoked the fires in the East Midlands prior to the visitors’ merited FA Cup fifth round win at Carrow Road when he mused over the relative size of the protagonists.
Given the ire felt amongst the travelling contingent due to a reduced ticket allocation Wellens hardly needed to throw any more fuel on the proverbial.
To reprise, the 31-year-old former Manchester United trainee opined: “I think a lot of times, when you have a lower-league side visiting a higher-league side, you can just go there and enjoy it, because it is a good day-out for our fans.
“But for a club the size of ours, and we are probably a bigger club than Norwich, no disrespect, it is not like that. We are going there to win the game and get to the next round. If we had played away at a Manchester United or Arsenal, we would have gone there and tried our best, but it would be a good day out for the fans and, if we lost, that would be it. But if we lose this we will be disappointed. We expect to go to Norwich and beat them.”
No disrespect Richie, but you are wrong son. Fair play, Leicester did a proper number on the Canaries. There is no need to rake over the embers of that particular post-mortem again from a Norwich perspective.
Wellens was central to the win. He plays as he appears to speak – with a forthright combativeness. The stand-in captain was dogged and determined alongside Neil Danns in the middle of the park; a combination that worked on the day and deservedly carried the Foxes on to a quarter-final date at either Chelsea or Birmingham. Both you suspect will be too good for Nigel Pearson’s men.
Maybe Wellens just says it as he sees it. Maybe he was indulging in that fairly common practice of trying to get under the skin of the opposition. The Canaries have one or two in their own ranks who love nothing better than to incur the wrath of an opponent.
You doubt Grant Holt is on Neil Warnock’s Christmas card list. Or the majority of Swansea’s fan base for that matter, given his reception at the Liberty Stadium. Holt appears to relish the brick bats. That is all part of the contest – gaining any edge you can in your favour.
Jose Mourinho is the arch practitioner when it comes to mind games. Mourinho openly admits he draws battle lines well away from the pitch. The Portuguese uses the media to entertain and annoy in equal measure. Jose’s pre and post-match musings are the stuff of legend; subtle and not so subtle digs at whoever stands in his way of progress.
Wellens doesn’t strike me as the sort of lad who delves too deeply into Freudian sub-culture. If he honestly, genuinely believes Leicester is a bigger footballing entity than Norwich, then he is entitled to his opinion.
But on what grounds he bases that assessment, I do not know. Certainly not attendances. Norwich’s outstrip Leicester’s for the past four seasons. Probably longer if I could be bothered to check back even further. One of those campaigns saw Norwich briefly despatched to League One whilst Leicester, with Pearson in charge, surged into the Championship play-offs.
Certainly not in league status. Norwich gave Leicester a head start, but have flown past them on the inside under Lambert and are now somewhere just over the horizon. The chances of that altering this season appear remote. As much for Norwich’s sustained ability to compete in the Premier League as Leicester’s inability to find a level of consistency in the Championship.
Certainly not pound for pound if you indulge in some fantasy football horse-trading between the respective squads.
Would a neutral seriously swap John Ruddy for Kasper Schmeichel? I think not. Grant Holt for David Nugent? I think not. Wellens for any of Norwich’s midfield? Next question.
Richie, use any criteria you wish and you are on a loser. For my money, Leicester and Norwich deserve to be in the same bracket.
Two one city, one county football clubs who both enjoy periods of success, but fight against the much bigger provincial powerhouses.
Leicester may have landed a decisive cup blow at the weekend, Norwich are well ahead on points at this juncture in English football history. I think even Leicester’s noisy scarf-waving support at Carrow Road would agree.