Not often in football do you see a team soar from near relegation to table toppers and plummet just as quickly as they rose within 24 months – especially in the modern era.
Not only did Leicester City win a a league title in the very same season they were one of the favourites to get relegated, their manager, Claudio Ranieri, collected the most prestigious managerial award there is – the FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year in January of this year.
Now here we are, roughly seven weeks later and the entire footballing world are in mourning following the news that a club that had won their first ever top flight league title in their 132-year history have sacked the man who masterminded such a triumph.
This leaves every football supporter in the world asking the simplest question there is – why?
However, simple questions to not always provide simple answers and there are no easy solutions to this one for sure. Fair enough, when a team is bottom they might choose to sack a manager. Fair enough, if a top table team are lingering around the bottom five sides, they sack a manager, but this is Leicester City.
The Foxes are currently struggling in 18th, and rightly so eyebrows have been raised and questions asked, but this is a team that were lucky to even be in the division this time last year, let alone win it. Prior to their historic season, Ranieri was asked where did he hope to finish in the league and he answered with 17th.
Before 2016 if Leicester were in the league position they are currently in it would come as no surprise to anyone and certainly would not warrant pushing the panic button. The current situation is so delicate not just because they are reigning champions but because they are effectively one goal away from reaching the last eight in Europe. Leicester have a 100 per cent record at the King Power Stadium in this season’s Champions League and if they can scrape a 1-0 win in two weeks time they’ll be through to the next round.
This makes the timing of the decision seem outrageous and one would have to suggest that Ranieri simply lost the dressing room because every other factor concerning this bizarre sacking doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary.
If a manager doesn’t have the backing of his own players then he’s just fighting a losing battle and the fact that the club would make such a monumental decision at this time with so much on the line, would hint that this was the case.
Back in 2012, we saw the end for Andre Villas Boas at Chelsea, with Roberto Di Matteo taking over for the remainder of the season with the backing of the players.
Although Leicester do not have the squad that Chelsea had and that the chances of them pulling off what the Blues did that season to capture the Champions League are slim to none, it might be the right decision as the season goes on.
Following Ranieri’s sacking on Thursday Leicester City caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare was adamant in rejecting the claims that the Italian had lost the dressing room. If this is true, the decision to sack him was not just disrespectful and naive but a disgrace to football.
William Dunne, Pundit Arena