Talking football

When Gary Caldwell kicked off his recruitment last summer with ex-Blackpool man David Perkins, 33, it probably wouldn't have caused much of a stir up and down the country.
David PerkinsDavid Perkins
David Perkins

But there won’t have been many better bits of business done by any club in any division. The epitome of the term ‘unsung hero’, Perkins has got about his business in the Latics engine room with the minimum of fuss – but with maximum effect.

Rarely scoring less than an ‘8’ in the player ratings, Perkins has quite simply been the glue that has kept the Latics side together this term.

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While others around him have garnered the headlines with great goals, super saves, tremendous tackles and brilliant blocks, Perkins has kept the whole machine ticking with his cool, calm, collected persona, being always available for the ball, and hardly ever giving it away.

And it speaks volumes that, in one of the club’s greatest-ever seasons, this fact was recognised last night when he swept the board at the Player of the Year awards dinner.

Recognised by the fans, players and management alike, there can rarely have been a more deserving recipient than the quiet man who has been true to the words he uttered on the first day of pre-season last summer.

“I just want to get back to playing football with style, enjoying myself and enjoying life...just don’t expect me to score any goals.”

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A prediction Nostradamus would have been proud of!

Just when you thought Blackpool on Saturday couldn’t get any better, came the following squeal from Latics media assistant Ash Houghton as he prepared to conduct his pitchside interviews: “I’ve just been splashed by bird muck!”

I’ve never understood why, but that is supposed to bring good luck to the victim.

So it was no surprise when I bumped into Ash on Monday, and he was celebrating a lottery win (no, seriously!).

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“Three numbers came in!” he proudly announced.

“How much did you win?” I enquired, excitedly.

“Just about scraped my stake back,” came the anti-climatic reply.

It’s been a few days now, but ‘Leicester City - Premier League champions’ has still not fully sunk in.

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And why would it? It’s the greatest sporting story ever told!

I don’t mind admitting the Foxes were one of my three pre-season tips to go down after barely surviving last term.

I felt the appointment of Claudio Ranieri was a mistake – and I wasn’t the only one!

It’s only 18 months ago since Latics accepted a bid from Leicester for Shaun Maloney, and my first thought was: ‘He could do so much better’.

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Maloney, too, clearly thought the same, and elected instead to head Stateside for a new, short-lived, adventure with Chicago, before rocking up at Hull.

It’s fair to say the Foxes recovered well from the ‘blow’, rallying in the second half of last term under Nigel Pearson, and then sweeping all before them this year under Ranieri.

Leicester City - Champions League winners next term?

It won’t be any more unlikely than what we’ve witnessed over the past nine months.

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A massive ‘well done’ to all concerned, and for making us believe – once again – that literally anything is possible.

While the vast majority of the footballing – and sporting – world have rightly acknowledged Leicester City’s achievements, not everyone has been quite so gracious. I give you the reaction of West Ham co-owner David Sullivan, to ‘the greatest sporting story ever told’.

“I know how they’ve done it,” Sullivan said. “They’ve got 11 penalties, Lady Luck shined on them. They’ve had virtually no injuries.” Nice.

Before Leicester re-wrote all the rules, the story of Bournemouth reaching the Premier League last year was held up as a real footballing fairytale.

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Until a new chapter was written this week, when the Cherries were fined £7.6m for breaching Financial Fair Play rules after accruing huge losses on their journey to the top flight.

They paid wages of £30.4m, from a turnover of just £12.9m, leading to an overall loss of £38.3m.

Jaw-dropping numbers, and proof again of the challenge faced by clubs like Latics, who are trying to compete while balancing the books at the same time.