It took Nigel Pearson an exhausting amount of time to get Leicester promoted. At times, it looked likely that the Foxes would remain in the Championship until Gary Lineker decided to come out of retirement to help his boyhood team out of the Second Division.
Play-off heartache against Watford, where they were a penalty kick away from progressing to a final against Crystal Palace, Pearson had to accomplish his set task of promotion in 2013-14, and he did so in some style, his Leicester team winning the league with 102 points.
So, you would be forgiven for wondering why the ostrich enthusiast was relieved of his duties at the start of pre-season after an outstanding return to the Premier League.
Fingers have pointed to the owner’s severe displeasure at Pearson’s son James’ involvement in a racist sex tape during an end-of-season tour in Thailand. It is presumed, and is quite logical, that the Thai owners felt it was necessary to extend their wrath around Pearson’s throat, not just to the now ex-Leicester trio.
Nonetheless, a sudden change in management does not always have dire consequences. Take Southampton as a very recent example. Nigel Adkins abrupt departure followed by Mauricio Pochettino’s move to Tottenham saw Ronald Koeman installed at Saint Mary’s, where fans have seen the club rise to their highest ever finish of seventh in the Premier League.
Pearson would have to be replaced with someone tactically astute, clever in the market and had the ability to connect with his players in order for his philosophy to be established. The choice of Claudio Ranieri as new first team coach, then, was a puzzling one, especially after a simply horrendous tenure with Greece, in which the Italian was duly dismissed after a loss to the Faroe Islands.
His time with the national team spanned just four games, so why Leicester would choose a manager who has failed to stay in a job for longer than two years since his Chelsea days is beyond the likes of honorary club vice president Gary Lineker.
“Claudio Ranieri is clearly experienced, but this is an uninspired choice by Leicester,” he said on the appointment.
“It’s amazing how the same old names keep getting a go on the managerial merry-go-round.”
Lineker’s words are echoed by multiple fans. Despite spells at Juve, Atleti and Chelsea, the old saying “You’re only as good as your last success” is a thundering reminder to those either unhappy with Pearson’s removal or Ranieri’s hiring of his failures with Greece.
An article in FourFourTwo in March does not do anything to calm nervous Leicester fans jitters about the new manager.
“The most important thing for me as coach is the way Monaco plays football,” he said.
“I want to see Monaco play the game well.
“For me, it’s about the philosophy of the football itself.”
Ranieri believes that results come with good football, and whilst it is perfectly fine to have football that is aesthetically pleasing, in a league as rigorous as the Premier League is, that could be a tragic misstep in his plans for Leicester.
A long history with famous clubs usually indicates the sign of a good manager, but when a spell at a club is unsuccessful, it tends to taint the coach’s relationship with his players.
Esteban Cambiasso had a less than joyous relationship with his boss when the midfielder was coached by Ranieri. The 34-year-old was reportedly frustrated that his midfield partner Thiago Motta was not coerced into staying at the San Siro by Ranieri, who seemed to do little to stop the transfer. With Cambiasso set to play for another season, he felt that new lessons could be learned from Slaven Bilic at West Ham, where his next destination supposedly lies.
Ranieri’s failure to persuade “Cucho” to stay was his first failure as manager, and it was a move that would have swayed the fans in his favour, or created further unease and more tension amongst the fan base.
Unfortunately for Pearson’s successor, the latter is true. The club’s Player of the Year was an industrious worker in the middle of the park; a shield to prevent counter-attacks as well as a constant source of attacking threat throughout the season. He will not be easy to replace, and Ranieri has not exactly emanated a positive vibe at the King Power.
A midfield anchor is desperately needed, though up front the club should not be lacking. The supreme signing of Shinji Okazaki for £9.5 million should ensure Leicester’s survival should Ranieri struggle. His new partner in Leonardo Ulloa had an impressive debut Premier League season after his £8 million move from Brighton, whilst Andrej Kramaric, who Leicester saw off Chelsea to sign, will be hoping to make a mark in his first full Premier League season.
What Ranieri needs to do now is find a replacement for the Argentine, but given the fact that Cambiasso is a unique style of footballer, that task is near impossible. Leicester will survive with Ranieri, but this will not be a lasting partnership.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena
Featured image By Roberto Vicario [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons