THE BLOG

Claudio Will Always Be The Greatest - But He Had To Go

24/02/2017 16:41
Plumb Images via Getty Images

An outpouring of grief has swept the pages of social media as celebrity after celebrity publicly mourns the sacking of Claudio Ranieri as Leicester boss. Irish singer Hozier tweeted solemn cartoon strips and Jose Mourinho donned a shirt with the Italian's initials to mark the sudden dismissal of Ranieri.

After a difficult season for the defending Champions of England, which has seen them embroiled in a tense relegation scrap, just months removed from the biggest upset in sporting history, club bosses took the bold and divisive decision to dispose of the title-winning manager last night.

Gary Lineker has spoken of what he calls an "inexplicable" and "unforgivable" decision by the club's billionaire owners - but his evaluation is wrong.

Leicester City are the Champions of England, a facet so readily deployed by the Foxes faithful when defending the now former manager but so quickly forgotten when criticising him.

Last season, Leicester City sailed away to Premier League glory, leaving their nearest challengers ten points behind. Now, City find themselves two points off the bottom of the table with games rapidly running out. To accept the lowly status of Leicester this season as 'inevitable' or 'natural' is to denigrate everything last year's miracle men achieved, Claudio included.

Why, oh why must we accept the mainstream media's line that last season was some sort of magical phenomena? You do not win the Premier League comfortably over 38 games and over ten months by accident.

The Champions of England - be they Chelsea, Manchester United, Leicester or even Scunthorpe - should be aiming higher than 17th the following season.

Whilst it was largely his masterstroke that led Leicester to the unlikeliest footballing triumph of all-time, he has too been the architect of their capitulation.

The mind-boggling decisions to diverge from Leicester's strengths this season has left the squad short on confidence and even shorter on points.

Ranieri gambled on diversifying the playing style of the team and came up woefully short. His reckless abandonment of the high-octane football which took the Premier League by storm has proven to be woefully naïve.

Ever since October, when Leicester escaped with a 0-0 draw against a Southampton side who had just travelled to Israel and back, the problems have been clear to see.

Leicester players were confused and downbeat, reluctant to go for the jugular at home to a tired, mid-table side and play the football that ripped the league apart just weeks before.

From that point on, Ranieri has persisted week after week making incoherent and ultimately incorrect decisions. Bringing defenders on for attackers when losing away, playing Musa over Gray, starting Chilwell over Fuchs.

The irony is this decision is supposed to demarcate the death of loyalty in football when it was loyalty to underperforming players that pushed Ranieri out the door.

In the four months since that forgettable draw on Filbert Way, Leicester have gradually declined to the point that they became far worse than the side who played the first two-thirds of Leicester's 2014-15 campaign.

Sacking Ranieiri was clearly a decision that cannot have been entered into lightly. The Italian's status in the East Midlands' de facto capital is God-like - but something had to change.

It is true the manager was no more to blame for this season's disgraceful performance than the playing squad, but sacking 25 professional footballers mid-season is simply not logistical - and now they have no-one to hide behind.

In fact, the cruellest and most questionable part of the Srivaddhanaprabha's decision was to dismiss the Italian boss before the Director of Football, Jon Rudkin, whose role in the club's laughably poor signings have contributed en masse to Leicester's demise. But, ultimately, to do so now would not have saved the Foxes from Championship football next term.

This sacking, while maybe callous and cruel, will preserve Ranieri from also being the man who relegated the Champions, a fate that was getting likelier week-on-week. However, Ranieri will always be Leicester City's greatest ever boss, no matter what.

But, for the good of the football club, Ranieri's last act was to accept his P45, now it is high-time for the club to build him a statue, give him a stand, and for the council to give him freedom of the city.

I will defend the tough decision the owners, who have given more to this football club than even Ranieri, had to make. Unquestionably, he is a legend, and yes, he was owed more patience than his predecessors but the club did not owe Ranieri a relegation that should not have even been a possibility this season.

This is without doubt a bitter end to the most wonderful story this modest city has ever seen. Leicester's charming Roman conqueror has fallen, but this is our club and our fairytale - so, Jose Mourinho, Gary Lineker, Hozier and whoever else who thinks we're now the bad guys - save your crocodile tears and your national funeral for somebody else.

He had to go.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS