Leicester City’s sacking of manager Claudio Ranieri on Thursday evening evoked sympathy from just about ever corner of the football world.
A steady stream of footballing personalities – managers, players, journalists – have been paying tribute to the now-former manager, and his fellow league bosses will undoubtedly have kind words to say about him in their pre-match press conferences on Friday.
However, perhaps the most surprising tribute of all has come from old rival José Mourinho.
Ranieri and Mourinho have had their differences in the past, dating back to when the latter replaced the former at Chelsea in 2004 and continued to when they were title rivals at their respective Serie A clubs, but Mourinho has been the first Premier League manager to publicly say goodbye to Ranieri, posting a message to his Instagram account on Thursday night:
The caption reads:
“CHAMPION OF ENGLAND and FIFA MANAGER of THE YEAR⚽️.sacked. Thats the new football claudio.keep smiling AMICO?.nobody can delete the history you wrote.????”
If nothing else, Mourinho should know exactly how Ranieri is feeling – the Portuguese manager was sacked last season just six months after leading Chelsea to the league title.
The Italian was relieved his duties less than ten months after delivering the greatest moment in the club’s history as his Foxes side won the Premier League title against all odds, and less than 24 hours after keeping their Champions League campaign alive with a narrow 2-1 defeat to Sevilla.
After the amazing feat of last season, the Foxes have struggled domestically this term and sit in 17th place, just one point above the relegation zone, with a record of just five league wins all season. They were also dumped out of the FA Cup at the fifth round last weekend by League One side Millwall.
With the prospect of relegation becoming a bigger danger with each passing week, the board felt that they had to take action. Nonetheless, it is not a move that has gone down well with either Leicester fans or the wider public, given Ranieri’s achievement last season.