Leicester City have sacked Claudio Ranieri only 9 months after he guided them to a shock Premier League trophy.
To say the decision lacked logic is evident, the fact owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha gave Ranieri their ‘unwavering support’ and a vote of confidence in the past weeks adds salt to the wound. And not just that, to make the decision evermore enigmatic, Vichai accompanied the decision by showering Ranieri with compliments in his official statement.
Not just a whimsical, wise-cracking character but a God to many fans, and he hasn’t even be gifted with the dignity of leaving by mutual consent – Claudio Ranieri was sacked.
The Foxes surely would have been in a euphoric state of optimism following their 2-1 loss away to Sevilla in the Champions League, a game where they scored their only goal of 2017 and showed the same passion and dedication shown when winning the league.
As many of the pundits proclaimed on Wednesday, this could have been the turning point for Leicester’s fruitless defence of the title and steady their near capsized ship. Jamie Vardy bagged his first goal after a 10 game drought and was teed up for another non non-league scoring spree, Danny Drinkwater showed glimpses of his 2015-16 Cesc-esque playmaking skills and the team in general proved they were willing to fight for their manager.
However, Leicester’s board and owner seemed to have other plans, rather then nurture the fine performances in Europe in the hope it will bring domestic success, they decided to part ways with Claudio without granting him the decency of playing the second leg. On one hand, they had to make the decision sooner rather than later if it was to be made but not now, not on such a high note.
I can only assume the players will be shocked by this, as mentioned the owner only showed remorse in his statement which begs the question; why make the decision at all? He states that despite having a sentimental obligation towards Ranieri, he needs to have the clubs best interests at heart and claimed this was the hardest decision in his 7 year reign, this being the only transparent and understandable fact about it.
To understand the perspective of the owner, you have to look at both the manager and players to identify if this was the correct decision – the players cannot be sacked part way through a season but the man in the hot seat can.
It’s hard to see how the blame cannot be cast onto the players, up until last nights heroics in Seville they showed very little zeal in their quest to maintain a high standard, with Mahrez a ghostly figure throughout most of the season and both Huth and Morgan unable to defend without using an MMA inspired stranglehold. A few diamonds are still embedded within the rough but many new signings have also failed to show any ardour to the cause, Ahmed Musa being the king-pin for underwhelming performances.
On the other hand, you have the Tinkerman who may have stormed England’s top flight with calculated counter attacking football but simply had his tactics all wrong this year. Even against Sevilla and some of their better performances, it was the courage of a few players which achieved the win and not the tactics. The consistent use of Musa over the mesmerising Demarai Gray is baffling; reverting from the tactics that were so effective last year to allowing Vardy to sit deeper to receive the ball; his trust in Huth at the back despite a string of poor games – the list goes on.
Tactically, this season has been extremely weak and you feel Ranieri constructed his own demise. In the early games of the season the 4-4-2 formation was countered by every team, Ranieri lived up to his tinkering ways by going to a 4-1-2-1 diamond formation for 3 games but this didn’t work, resulting in harrowing losses to Southampton, Arsenal and Liverpool. You can, perhaps, point the finger at his 11 bodies on the pitch who failed to grasp a change in formation and simply capitulated.
Above all, football is and should always be a sport driven by passion and moments of magic. Ranieri did exactly this and deserved to be relegated with the club he crowned as Champions, he at least deserved to see out the second leg of their Champions League clash.
Cheerio Claudio, you shocked the world by overtaking England and again by your dismissal.