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Leicester defying the critics

first_imgLONDON (AP):Leicester had little to celebrate last Christmas. Languishing in last place in the Premier League, the team was facing instant relegation back to the second tier.Now Leicester are looking down on everyone.From propping up the league, Leicester have surged to the pinnacle inside 12 months and rivals are trying to figure out how to replicate their feat. It has not been accomplished by a spending splurge but through astute bargain buys far expecting expectations and a managerial change that had most pundits forecasting a relegation struggle.The turnaround is as astonishing and unforeseen as Chelsea’s collapse from champions to a team now hovering above the relegation zone. When Leicester beat the champions earlier this month it no longer seemed such a shock, although it cost Jose Mourinho his Chelsea job.The tale of the two clubs and their contrasting fortunes is the biggest surprise in the history of the Premier League.”I don’t know how it’s possible,” Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri reflected this week. “I think it’s a fantastic achievement. If I understood very well, never at this time was Leicester top of the league.”This team, based in an east Midlands city better known for its textiles industry and rugby side, has never won the top prize in English football. Not in the post-1992 Premier League era or any time stretching back into the 19th century. The only major honour Leicester have ever collected is the League Cup, with the third and most recent triumph coming in 2000.Aware how close Leicester came to being relegated last season under Nigel Pearson – before a stunning late revival that was not enough to keep him in a job – Ranieri has cooled fan expectations. The target for this season remains reaching the 40-point mark that should guarantee a place in the Premier League next season. That can be achieved at the halfway point today when a win at Liverpool would lift Leicester to 41 points.As Leicester have remained among the front-runners throughout the season, the widespread expectation has been it was a matter of if – not when – Leicester start to slip down the standings. Two matches from the halfway point and everyone is still waiting.The whole season has been one long mission in defying the critics. Leicester were considered foolish for plucking Ranieri from the ranks of unemployed coaches to replace Pearson in July. It had been 11 years since he had managed in England with Chelsea – during which he was often labelled “The Tinkerman” for constantly changing the starting line up – and he had been out of work since an embarrassing spell in charge of the Greece national team.”I am waiting for when people change my nickname from ‘Tinkerman’ to ‘Thinkerman,'” quipped Ranieri, whose avuncular and calm demeanour contrasts with the league’s more erratic coaches.One thing Ranieri does not own up to thinking about is lifting the trophy for the world’s richest football competition in May.”I think we aren’t ready to fight to be champions,” he said, even as Leicester sit two points in front of Arsenal and six ahead of Manchester City.In the off season, Leicester’s net spending of around $30 million was one sixth of Manchester City’s outlay.”We don’t have the high quality like City, Arsenal, but we fight together,” Ranieri said. “Every ball for us is the last ball. That’s what we believe.”last_img read more

Another one signs! Dzeko agrees new deal at Manchester City

first_img Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko Edin Dzeko has become the latest Manchester City star to agree a new long-term deal with the Premier League champions.The Bosnian international dazzled in the Blues’ opening day 2-0 win at Newcastle on Sunday and has now signed fresh terms on a four-year contract at the Etihad.Dzeko joins fellow City stars Sergio Aguero, Aleksandar Kolarov, Samir Nasri, David Silva and captain Vincent Kompany in agreeing a new deal with Manuel Pellegrini’s side.And the 28-year-old told the club’s official website: “I’m really happy here at City – it’s a second home to me so it was an easy decision to stay for the long-term.“I knew from the beginning when I started here that I wanted to stay for a long time – I can’t see any place better than here.“I’m settled perfectly to life here, I know my team-mates, the club, the team, very well and I feel like I can improve even more.“Over the last three-and-a-half years we’ve made history together but I feel like we are only at the start of something really special.“There are still so many objectives and goals that I want to reach from my career in the game and I believe I am in the perfect place to achieve them all.” 1last_img read more

Before Darbar: Moondru Mugam to Pandiyan, 5 Tamil films Rajinikanth went khaki for

first_imgSuperstar Rajinikanth is in terrific form as his last three films, Kaala, 2.0 and Petta, proved to be profitable ventures for everyone who were associated with them. Now, the actor is all set to kickstart his next venture titled Darbar, which is directed by AR Murugadoss.A few days ago, Rajinikanth was called in for a photo shoot for the film. Stills from the photoshoot were leaked online and they literally caught audience by surprise as it revealed one crucial information. Yes, Rajinikanth was sporting the khaki. He is essaying the role of an IPS officer in the film.In Kollywood, cop films are usually considered a ladder to an actor’s success. However, in Rajinikanth’s case, it wasn’t mandatory at all. Despite acting in 167 films, only a handful of them were cop films. Of all the films in which he acted as a police officer, Moondru Mugam tops the list.His other films in Tamil and Hindi weren’t as successful as Moondru Mugam. As Rajinikanth kickstarts Darbar, let us take a look at five films in which he portrayed the role of a police officer.ANBUKKU NAAN ADIMAIDirector Thyagarajan’s Anbukku Naan Adimai released in 1980 and it is the first film in which Rajinikanth sported the khaki uniform. The film traces the story of two brothers (played by Rajinikanth) who get separated during their childhood. While one becomes a police officer, the other turns into a gangster.MOONDRU MUGAMDirector Jagannathan’s Moondru Mugam is by far the best cop film Rajinikanth has been in. He was seen in three roles for the first time in his career. His role, Alex Pandian, still lingers on in the minds of Rajinikanth’s ardent fans. Even though his role as Alex Pandian had less screen time, he nailed the ruthless cop act.advertisementKODI PARAKKUDHUIt took six years for Rajinikanth to get back to doing cop roles once again. The film, which hit the theatres in 1988, also marked the second collaboration of Bharathiraja and Rajinikanth. However, the film got mixed reviews as it lacked the trademark references of a Bharathiraja film.NAATUKKU ORU NALLAVANDirector V Ravichandran’s Naatukku Oru Nallavan didn’t follow the template of a Rajinikanth film. Even today, not many Rajinikanth fans would want to see him lose to his rivals. However, Naatukku Oru Nallavan stayed away from the ‘Superstar’ image, which was one of the major reasons behind its failure.PANDIYANRajinikanth and Khushbu-starrer Pandiyan hit the theatres in 1992. He teamed up with director SP Muthuraman for this venture, which turned out to be a box office dud. Unlike other heroes, the cop roles he did, barring a few, didn’t quite help Superstar’s career and with Pandiyan, he bid a long goodbye to such roles. Until…Darbar.We will have to wait and see if Rajinikanth’s role in AR Murugadoss’s Darbar will go down in history much like his film Moondru Mugam.ALSO READ | Rajinikanth as cop in Darbar: All you need to know about AR Murugadoss filmALSO READ | Happy Birthday Rajinikanth: Thalaivar’s untold love story with wife Latha RangachariALSO READ | AR Murugadoss on his film with Rajinikanth: It is NOT a political ventureALSO WATCH | Actor Vijay pays homage to Karunanidhi at Anna Memoriallast_img read more