I’ve purposely waited for a couple of days to let the dust settle around Leicester City and to see what pundits and fans alike have been saying about the controversial sacking of Claudio Ranieri.
The general reaction is that the sacking of Ranieri was disgusting, left people feeling that modern-day football had gone mad and that Leicester City have now seemingly become the most disliked football club in the entire country. This thought process is completely understandable given last seasons achievement but does it take into account the cold, hard facts of the current situation Leicester find themselves in.
It is important to remember that Ranieri took charge in what looked like an extremely strange move from the board. In the summer of 2015, after performing one of the greatest escapes ever seen in Premier League history, Nigel Pearson was sacked. He was replaced with a perceived failure in Claudio Ranieri and many pundits tipped him to lead Leicester City straight into the Championship. We now know they needn’t have worried about anything, as Leicester City had the most remarkable season and lifted the Premier League title.
Fast forward nine months and as Ranieri has said himself, ‘his dream has died‘. I must get it out there right now, I for one am not shocked by this decision. Leicester City are a team on a downward curve, quite a steep downward curve at that. Ranieri has not been able to motivate and invigorate the squad to keep them away from trouble, and I think the Leicester City board got massively ahead of themselves.
When a decision like this is made, it is extremely easy to get up in arms and be filled with anger within the immediate aftermath, however, football is a business. As much as it is business driven by the fans’ love, passion and loyalty, it is still a business. The bottom line is that Sky have changed the game in terms of money being offered to Premier League clubs, and in the past summer, Leicester City players were handed huge contracts. The increase in wages, married with the dip in form, has created a perfect storm in the Leicester boardroom and something has to change.
The sacking of Ranieri does prove that football is heartless, and that is extremely hard to stomach as a large number of football fans fell in love with the game from an early age and have grown up doing so. To think that something you love could be so cold is difficult, but as explained above, football is a business. You cannot imagine somebody in a high-end company not being scrutinised for such a shift in results and the performance of the staff that work under him, although that is different and markedly so, the very lowest level is very similar.
It could be argued that the timing is massively off, and maybe there aren’t the managers available to come in and make the necessary difference at such short notice but the easiest way to change things is by sacking the manager. Of course Ranieri deserved more time, but that should not have been based on last season, as that was a freak season that was never going to be repeated. The fact is that managers live on the edge, there are probably a handful of managers in the top two divisions that know they are safe, regardless of a few bad results but not many.
Much has been made of the fact that Ranieri had supposedly lost the support of key senior players and it was this that ultimately resulted in his sacking. As is often said, there is no smoke without fire. It could be argued that Ranieri never really had their full support, as many of them were unhappy with Pearson’s dismissal and the relationship they had with Ranieri was never put under any strain due to the fantastic results. Once this relationship has been strained, it appears to have broken pretty quickly.
The board have made a statement saying there is not only one issue at the club, but many. Whether that is player power, projected monetary issues if relegation is realised or generally poor performances, they have not clarified. All that matters is that Ranieri was part of a magical season, one that invigorated love for football across the nation and that is amazing. Was he the sole reason? No. Is he quite possibly the most friendly, inviting and warm manager that has been in the Premier League in recent years? Yes. That is what makes this all the more sad.
Where next for Leicester City? Apparently the current caretaker manager is in the frame, as is player favourite Nigel Pearson. All that can be said for now is Addio Claudio, hope to see you again soon.