I try to share my words around the various managers in the league when it comes to this blog, but I just can’t help but revert once more to a particular old favourite – LvG. Every week I sit down and go through the ramblings, quips and tirades that leave the mouths of bosses up and down the division, and time and time again the Dutchman gives me material. However unhealthy this obsession may have become, it is nowhere near as disturbing as that of Van Gaal with Marouane Fellaini and his hair.
When he spoke of Leicester defender Robert Huth’s attempts to grapple with his Belgian midfielder, the Manchester United boss went down an avenue none of the assembled press wanted to go. “Every human being who is grabbed by the hair, only with sex masochism, then it is allowed but not in other situations. Cue Fellaini getting an immediate haircut. Why such a reference was anywhere near the front of his mind in a post-match press conference is beyond me but it has certainly been a successful diversion from another nail in the coffin of his team’s Champions League qualification hopes. United still lie four points off the top four, albeit with a game in hand, and time is running out. The classic Van Gaal distraction tactics may have worked this weekend but it’s unlikely even the most bizarre turns of phrase will save him from the axe this summer.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, the Dutchman’s opposite number couldn’t have been more different in manner. Commenting on Danny Drinkwater’s red card the Italian said, “It wasn’t a red card for Drinkwater in my opinion, but I accept the referee’s decision.” That, in a nutshell, sums up the Leicester manager and the good grace he has brought with him for all of the years he has worked in England. For that good nature and respect that we so very rarely see from managers in professional football, this year’s Premier League title is thoroughly deserved. He’ll have to go some to exceed the ‘Dilly ding, dilly dong’ press conference from last week, but this Saturday’s should be something quite special. I can’t wait.
At the other end of the spectrum is another man who has done well to carry himself gracefully over the past season. Manuel Pellegrini has known he was for the chop for the lion’s share of the campaign but, with just a few games to go, he seems to have publicly lost patience with some of the fringe players in his squad. Following a drubbing at Southampton on Sunday afternoon, the Chilean was exasperated. “I’m very frustrated because I didn’t expect that performance, especially in defence.” Fair play to him for taking until May to lose patience with his back line. On several occasions this season, City have been found wanting in the league, especially defensively and at times, the manager has seemed powerless to do much about it. It’s not hard to see why. When such a wealthy squad full of egos knows that the manager instructing them will not be there for the next season, many will have become very difficult to manage and influence. His replacement, Pep Guardiola, is renowned for praising players exorbitantly in the media but many more performances like that next season will be a severe test of his creative thinking. But his press conferences can wait – the one we all care about now is Mr Ranieri.
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