How partizan should we be as fans? I ask this only after reading someone question the integrity and loyalty of others in applauding Leicester City off the pitch at the Stadium of Light last Sunday.
Does showing your appreciation to a victorious opposition really make you any less of a fan than one who doesn’t?
I don’t think so. The club is in a precarious position and the team could do with every little bit of help they can get during the 90 minutes but whilst this was a game of the utmost importance for opposing reasons to both sides, this wasn’t Galatasaray against Besiktas.
I’m in total agreement that prior to, and during, a game where points are so precious, home fans should shout their team on and, within reason, make the atmosphere as uncomfortable for the opposition as possible. But there’s one difference in this game that is anything but subtle: this is Leicester City, Kings of the underdog.
I can see why fans chose to applaud the Leicester players. It wasn’t because of their beautiful Pep Guardiola style of play. It wasn’t because they have taken Jamie Vardy to their hearts as we did with Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne in their post Italia ’90 visit to Roker Park with Spurs. No, it was a show of respect and appreciation for a team who are showing us dreams come do come true. Not quite, but almost.
If I’d have made it to the game that day, I’d have been able to put the utter disappointment of Jack Rodwell’s miss that might have given us a vital point and put my hands together for them too.
Actually, disappointment and appreciation wouldn’t be the overriding emotion I would be feeling as I watched the Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Kasper Schmeichel’s group hug after yet another “pinch ourselves because we can’t believe it” step towards the Premier League title. It would jealousy. Pure, 37 carat emerald jealousy.
Every single time I watch Claudio Ranieri’s side I think this is the side Sunderland should be.
I couldn’t tell you what a typical Leicester City side are but today’s side are built in the image I have of our city; an industrious, unified group of players with more than just a sprinkling of talent. Not exactly beautiful but know precisely what they are and proud of it.
In Mahrez and Vardy they have their Gates and Gabbiadini. In Schmeichel they have their Monty. In Morgan and Huth they have their Charlie Hurley and Colin Todd. In Drinkwater and Kante they have their Bracewell and Len Shackleton. A perfect amalgamation, partnering players together, all at just the perfect time.
Applauding opposition isn’t a regular occurrence.
It should be reserved for those special talents we rarely witness and what we are witnessing here is something very special and every one of those Leicester players deserve every single word of praise placed on them.
The fans who fill the Stadium of Light has the potential to lift the team up above what it thinks it’s capable of but the fact it can also take its collective hat off to those not wearing red and white who are deserving of their cheers too, makes me proud to say I’m from Sunderland too.
When you consider the dubious applause given to players in our recent past, it makes you question where the true misplaced loyalty lies.