Like many men of my age, I have a tendency to see the world through the prism of football. It's an odd viewpoint, one which colours the language and experience of my everyday life. So a run of the mill domestic transgression - such as forgetting to feed the cat - may be deemed 'worthy of a yellow card', whilst a more serious offence - such as that time I forgot to feed my children - might merit a 'straight red'. For some time now I have been taking this further and, almost unconsciously, drawing parallels between things, places - and to my shame, people - and football teams. So a business that, through an act of over-ambitious folly when times are good implodes and plummets downwards, will inevitably make me think of Leeds United. I'm likely to describe that flashy, slightly naff new restaurant that's had millions lavished on it but somehow still feels fake as 'a bit Chelsea'. And anyone of my acquaintance who, after years in ruggedly functional fleeces, starts to experiment with the occasional designer piece, with surprisingly successful results - well, he's come over all Stoke City, hasn't he?
This year's big story in the football world has been the unlikely rise of Leicester City. Or, as I like to think of them, Donald Trump. Consider the similarities: both are outsiders, initially dismissed as something of a joke. Both have doggedly refused to go away, proving the sceptics wrong by building on their early promise with campaigns of genuine momentum. And both finally bridged the credibility gap a couple of months back with landmark victories that might once have seemed unlikely, but ultimately carried an air of inevitability. In Trump's case it was the multi-state triumph of Super Tuesday; for Leicester, a surprisingly straightforward 3-1 away win at Manchester City.
Scratch the surface and further common traits appear. Both The Donald and The Foxes have been painted as anti-establishment heroes, a status which might suggest purity, romance and a philosophy of doing things the right way, unfettered by the baser instincts of their less radical rivals. In each case, the reality is quite different. For all his shoot from the hip instincts, Trump has repeatedly displayed a politically astute ability to say whatever he thinks will play best with his audience, regardless of whether he means (or, in the case of foreign policy, even fully understands) what he is saying. And although it's fair to say that Leicester's ability to grind out a series of dull and often dirty 1-0 victories is less sinister than, say, Trump's deranged rants on immigration, the approach is equally pragmatic. In both cases, 'whatever it takes' is the main modus operandi; 'winning ugly' is not a problem.
Looking forward, where will they both end up? Leicester, on whom you could get odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League at the start of the season, are now as short as 1/6 with most leading bookmakers. And Trump, who as recently as the turn of the year was not even favourite to secure the Republican nomination, is now odds on to do so. Bookies tend to get more things right than wrong. Which means that by the summer, Leicester are likely to be Premier League champions, and Trump will be one of just two people with a chance of leading the most powerful nation on earth - the other, presumably, being Hilary Clinton. (By the way, is it just me, or does Hilary have more than a hint of Manchester United about her? Living off past glories/a big spending campaign delivering lacklustre results/disliked by pretty much everyone other than hard-core supporters etc.)
Further down the road, the consequences of these triumphs - which once seemed so unlikely as to be actually funny - are somewhat darker. Nobody of sound mind would want Donald Trump's finger on the nuclear button in the event of an international crisis. And equally, nobody who cares about the England national team would want to see Leicester's Danny Drinkwater occupying the holding midfield role in this summer's Euros. It's hard to know which scenario is worse, really. One could cause disaster and grief on an unimaginable scale. The other might lead to a nuclear war.
One thing's for sure though: both Donald Trump and Leicester City have earned the right to be taken seriously. Which, when you consider their respective starting points, is actually kind of funny.
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