The power of the group

The big event in England yesterday was that, after the winter season, Leicester City soccer club are now confirmed to be at the top of the Premier League table, the top league in the world.

A year ago, Leicester City were at the bottom of the League with eleven defeats in a row and comprised a team of soccer players at the end of their lifetimes as footballers or as low-priced transfers from higher clubs in the League. The bookies were offering 5,000 to 1 against Leicester ever getting to the top.

The club was bought by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, a Thai billionaire, who then appointed Claudio Ranieri, an Italian, as Manager — previously manager of Chelsea and of the Greek national team. For the final match of the season he then flew in a Buddhist abbot from the Wat Traimit Withayaram Woraviharn (Golden Buddha) Temple, in Bangkok, to bless the team. It’s been lone of those stories that’s stranger than fiction.

All the sports journalists are confident in saying that Ranieri will have to buy several top players in order to remain at the top of the Premier League next winter. But he says he’s not going to start breaking up his prize-winning squad anytime soon. He wants to keep all his players for at least another season.

Despite the ‘groupism’ of elephants, porpoises and bonobos, man is by far the most sophisticated social species on earth. There are gradations of social levels — which can vary according to circumstances — and varied styles of leadership — which are too subtle to be easily describable.

In this case, we have Claudio Ranieri, previously a throw-out of Chelsea club and the Greek national side, consorting with another group of throw-outs in Leicester. Yet something very special occurred on this occasion.

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