Harry Redknapp’s verdict
Some Leicester fans think they have won the title but there will be more twists to come
Hold your horses, boys – the title is far from over
Judging by the scenes at full time in Leicester yesterday it is clear that some of their supporters think they have already won the league. They reckon that with a sevenpoint lead they cannot be caught, and that the Premier League can start putting blue and white ribbons on the trophy.
Well I am afraid it is not that simple – this title race is not over, not by a long chalk.
At the moment, Leicester are doing just enough to win. Each of their last four games has ended 1-0, but grinding out a result week after week is so hard to do.
They have also got a really tough run of games coming up, and I would not be at all surprised if
their lead is cut to just four points by this time next week.
On paper their trip to the Stadium of Light looks simple enough, but at this stage of the season I cannot think of many tougher teams to play than a Sunderland side fighting for their lives. They are absolutely desperate for points and Sam Allardyce will have them well prepared.
Sunderland seem to have been written off, too, and I really do not know why. They were excellent against West Brom and really should have won that game.
The title race may well come down to the final day and I think the relegation fight definitely will.
I would not like to call which two of Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland will join Aston Villa in the Championship, I really would not.
The stakes are huge for both teams. Leicester will be doing really well to win that game, and I would not be shocked if they come unstuck. If they do and their lead is down to four points then the heat really will be on.
Claudio Ranieri will be telling his players that it is all to play for, too. He will know that Spurs and Arsenal will be looking to strike at any sign of weakness, and I think both north London clubs are still in the hunt. Arsenal are a long way back, but there is no reason they cannot win every single one of their games to put the heat on. Tottenham are still most likely to challenge, though, and they looked good in their draw against Liverpool. They can go on a run, that’s for sure.
I was also delighted to see Harry Kane score again. He has now scored more Premier League goals in a single season than any other Tottenham player in history, and I remember how some pundits wrote him off as a one-season wonder. I thought that was so stupid. He is clearly the real deal and deserves all the success he is having. He lives for football and Tottenham are so lucky to have him – and they need him if they are to overhaul Leicester.
But if Kane is important for Tottenham then Wes Morgan is doubly so for Leicester. He was immense yesterday, as he has been all season. I remember watching him when he first came through at Nottingham Forest and thinking he was good enough then to play in the Premier League.
He has had to bide his time to get there but he is showing everyone that he belongs at this level. Claudio certainly knows his value to Leicester, and their success has been built on the partnership between Morgan and Robert Huth at the back.
That said, I did not envy Claudio one little bit during those last 20 minutes yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, he is having the season of his life – and he must be pinching himself when he remembers he was drummed out of his last job with Greece after losing to the Faroe Islands – but the stress of watching the clock tick down is one every manager knows all too well.
If you are one goal ahead the clock just doesn’t move. If you are losing it feels like it is going at 100 miles per hour. The last 20 minutes of yesterday’s match must have felt like an eternity for Claudio. You kick every ball, and his players kept giving away silly free-kicks that allowed Southampton to pump the ball into the box, which absolutely does your head in as a manager.
When he got back to the dressing room Claudio would have been calming them down, though.
He knows Leicester will never have a better chance of winning the title than this. Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City will be a lot better next season.
This is Leicester’s chance, and they are in a position that no one ever thought possible. With the exception of north London, everyone in the entire country is willing them over the line, desperate for the underdogs to beat the big boys – something I did not think would happen again in the Premier League.
But they are not there yet. If Southampton was tough then Sunderland will be even tougher.
It is not over, that’s for sure.
If Ranieri thought Southampton was tough then just wait until they go up to play Sunderland