In just ninety minutes on Saturday, and ninety minutes and Sunday, we effectively put to bed the issue of who will lift the Premier League trophy this season.
In truth, I made my mind up on it a few weeks ago; but there’s still been a nagging doubt in the back of my mind about my prediction.
If you read my column regularly, you’ll know that pretty much since January I’ve been predicting a Leicester title win. And it hasn’t been an idle prediction – I’ve genuinely believed it.
But at the same time as ‘genuinely believing it’, I’ve also had this sense that Leicester could collapse. That Tottenham could swoop in and steal the title from under Claudio Ranieri’s side’s noses.
That sense was extinguished this weekend, as first Tottenham and then Leicester transpired to leave the Foxes seven points clear with just six games to go.
So that’s that. Barring a collapse of virtually impossible proportions, Ranieri’s men will lift the trophy in the next few weeks, and now that it’s pretty much settled, we’re left to ponder what we should make of what has been a truly ridiculous season.
Underachievement from Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City.
Overachievement from Tottenham, West Ham, Stoke and, of course, Leicester City.
So what’s going on? Is the league just ‘more even’ now?
I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that this season has proved money does not necessarily deliver sustainable success.
Note the key word here: sustainable.
Money can and does deliver success. Chelsea have proved it. Leeds have proved it. Man City have proved it. Blackburn have proved it.
But the question of whether that success is sustainable is another question entirely.
Blackburn’s success was shortlived. So was Leeds’. And it remains to be seen if Chelsea’s and City’s rises, which seem very much in the past already, will be long-term successes or flashes in the pan.
From a business perspective, it makes sense that if you spend a lot of money acquiring the best tools for a certain job, in the short term you’re likely to do a great job with those tools.
But the key thing is that the tools are not all there is to the business. You might have great tools, but crappy customer service, or unappetising premises.
And so it is with football. In recent years, City and Chelsea have spent vast sums of money on players – the tools they believe will deliver them success.
And whilst those tools have delivered success, both of those clubs have failed so far to work on other areas of the club, areas just as important as the tools. They’ve failed to do the things that will lead to long term sustainable success.
Leicester City has an average set of tools. Let’s face it. But because they’ve got so many other aspects right, they’re a far more complete proposition.
Whether you like Leicester or not, they should be applauded for what they’ve done, on a small budget, driven by things greater and far more important than money.
Long may it continue.