Oh to adore football again. One day, it’ll return to me, right?
Right now, as someone who has endured the tumultuous nature of being a Leicester City supporter for the last two-and-a-half decades, I don’t know.
What this team has done to me over the last three years (let alone the previous generation), well, it’s given me pause as a lifelong admirer of the beautiful game.
Sunday’s repugnant 3-0 defeat versus Manchester United was the latest in a dismal stretch of matches for the 16th place(!) Foxes that has seen them lose their last four, scoring a grand total of zero goals in the process.
Leicester, if your brain can even comprehend this fact, are the current champions of the English Premier League. An epic 2015/16 season saw Claudio Ranieri’s men achieve the unbelievable and something that is widely considered — not just on this little blog — as one of the greatest achievements in the history of football.
Fast forward to the year 2017 and we are presented with a team that, despite being essentially the same group of players and management, isn’t even a shadow of the trophy-raising bunch from May 2016.
The play is slow and awkwardly wide. The tempo is all wrong. The passes aren’t connecting. The superstars aren’t who they were this time a year ago. It’s a shell, a sham, a painful reality that has soured the world on the once-darlings of our great sport.
This has created an inner turmoil within me that I didn’t think possible.
The joy I felt watching Jamie Vardy score that insane volley against Liverpool. The rush from watching Riyad Mahrez cut Manchester City’s defense to pieces on his way to giving the Foxes a 2-0 lead at the Eithad. Being at the King Power Stadium to see Andrea Bochelli beautifully serenade the 30,000-plus on hand with “Nessun Dorma” with the trophy pitchside.
All of it feels like ancient history. Things that didn’t really happen but for some reason stick in my mind as dreams I may have had after a long day. I was barely coming to grips with Leicester winning the title and at this point, eight months later, I am questioning whether it even happened at all.
So to confirm the existence of these presumed anomalies, I did some research. Scanned the world wide web. Watched videos on YouTube.com. Looked at pictures from around that time period on my cell phone. Closed my eyes really tightly and tried to imagine being in the crowd at Victoria Park staring at Wes Morgan as he raised the that big hunk of metal goodness triumphantly into the sky.
And you know what...it all checked out.
These were some of the happiest moments I could remember (after verifying they really truly existed). And now, not even a year later, I find myself wondering if any was real. It’s really become that bad. The tables have truly turned and Leicester supporters are left, match after match, scratching their heads. This is the same team, right? That patch on their sleeves is the gold one, innit? They’ve even run out of pies ffs!
Watching football this season, watching this team, has been like been like biting into a big, warm perfectly-flaky pie and having it be completely and depressingly tasteless. And then I eat one for every meal, every day until I lose track of what real food should even be.
That’s how I feel about the beautiful game right now, at least as it pertains to Leicester City Football Club. It’s hardly as beautiful as it once was. That beauty, the joy, the passion, it has all been sucked out like dust into a vacuum cleaner.
It’s not a fun situation to be in by any stretch of the imagination. Sure things could be worse...we could be Forest...but right now everything aches. The worst part is, there doesn’t appear to be a remedy in sight. Nothing to cure what ails me, or more importantly so, the beleaguered team in question.
So what am I left with? What am I to do to remove myself from this painful footballing purgatory that haunts me so?
What else can you do in situations such as this?
When Leicester were nailed-on to get relegated two seasons ago, there was belief that Nigel Pearson and co. could somehow turn things around. They did.
When Leicester found itself in the unlikeliest of title chases last year, there was belief (albeit blind) that somehow, some way, this ragtag band could somehow beat those infamous 5000-1 odds and place themselves among the footballing immortals. They did.
And now, when the club is suffering through a state of turmoil and a harrowing identity crisis...will they be able to turn things around and have people like me feeling something again? I cannot accept any other answer but we will. After all, my sanity, (and Claudio’s job), is on the line.
Shane Evans is Managing Editor of The Fosse Posse. You can follow him on Twitter @shanevans.