Yes, the world’s most famous Italian grandfather who happens not to be a mobster was unfortunately sacked by the same club whom he had just less than a year ago, led them to an unprecedented fairy tale that will almost never be replicated again. It was inconceivable that the board at Leicester would put the knife in at the man who gave his heart and soul for the club. Not since David Cameron fucking a pig (allegedly) has there been such a collective moral outrage that has captured the public imagination of a fairy tale that has gone sour rather quickly. On one hand, such sentimentality should be expected by football fans who are clinging on to romantic notions that loyalty and redemption still exist in modern football, yet however, the difficult position that Ranieri has left Leicester in the last 3 months is more than enough justification for the boot. Although it might be difficult for many to hear and contrary to public opinion, I have come here to offer a reasonable argument why the Board has made the right decision.
The Broken Tinkerman
There is no doubt that Ranieri will be forever regarded as a god in Leicester. Chants will be sung across the Midlands on how the dilly dong man conquered the English elite through sheer guts and determination. However, despite achieving the impossible last season and taking all of us on a riveting journey, the objective reality this season is that Leicester has been an absolute shambles under Ranieri.
At the current moment, Leicester is joint-second bottom in terms of both wins and losses. They have only won 5 games this season, alongside an appalling 14 games lost already – compared with last season they had only lost 3 games in total. Much of the problem has been Ranieri’s own making (he even admits this himself), has he had reverted back to consistently tinkering the team’s formation and tactics. Unlike last season where it was kept simple and direct through the use of the 4-4-2 formation, this season has overseen a myriad of changes ranging from the misguided personnel selections to the utterly bizarre formation. The manager’s role is to provide certainty and stability in selections, so when you have Ranieri chopping and changing the midfield every game, there is no doubt that criticism is warranted at his selections. Perhaps the most damning evidence is Ranieri failure to understand his team. Leicester has not scored a single goal in the EPL since the turn of the year. With the team consistently conceding 3 goals per game and a genuine disconcert for dropping underperforming players, one has to wonder whether the Tinkerman’s blind loyalty to some of his senior players has led to his downfall. Any other manager that is consistently changing the side for no apparent reason would’ve been long gone, if not for the fact Raineri achieved the impossible last season.
Sure, the players have to cope with most of the blame as they are massively underperforming since the start of the season. Losing Kante was a big loss and probably meant they couldn’t do the same as before. Yet the most concerning factor has been the (or lack of) signings made during this window. Not only did they let go of Liam Moore, Schulp, De Laet and Luis Hernandez, they made no effort to find suitable replacements for them, despite knowing the defense that won them last season is seriously past their prime. Huth and Morgan are well past their 30’s and could no longer be depended upon. Instead of strengthing the centre-backs and wings, they then decided to bring in two new strikers and two new midfielders. Part of this deficiency could be explained by the departure of Steve Walsh who had initially brought in Vardy, Kante and Mahrez, but this doesn’t excuse the new players brought in as they would’ve been scouted long before Walsh’s departure. It is more than likely that Ranieri had a say about the new signings, but without a hint of raising the alarm for a lack of defensive reinforcement, further indicates a lack of team awareness by the manager.
If some of the reports are to be believed, it was said that Claudio would only tell players who was starting and what formation they would be in an hour before the game. Anyone that has played football (let alone professional football) would know that is close to committing suicide for the team morale. Certainty and game management are the two most crucial elements before a ball is even kicked, and these suggestions go a long way pointing towards a lack of clarity by the head coach.
The Importance of Staying Up
People tend to forget that Ranieri was simply hired to keep Leicester up after Nigel Pearson and his son had their unfortunate misdemeanors. Sacking Pearson would’ve not been easy due to the fact this was a manager that took them from the strenuous path of League One all to the way to the Premier League. He was a popular man in the changing room and had also performed a Fullhamesque great escape during the 2014/2015 season. It would’ve been very easy to have just kept Pearson but the Board was smart enough to know that Leicester couldn’t afford to take the risk of going down like they did during the 2015 season -hence why Ranieri was brought in. He was able to convince the club that he would ensure the club gains stability and play a brand of football contingent enough to stay up for the foreseeable future. This remains the prime objective and it was clear from the owners that this was expected every season. Despite the success of last season, it would’ve been inconceivable to the board that after spending over £77 million on new signings that they are right back to where they began.
The board could’ve easily followed the popular option which would’ve been let the club go down to the Championship and give a year for Ranieri to bring them up again. Thankfully the owners are not dumb stooges. People consistently fail to realize that getting promoted from the Championship is extremely difficult to achieve. It is well known that every team in the second tier are getting stronger with a very tough path towards promotion – factors including; grueling fixtures, constant traveling and dips in form. For a manager like Claudio having never managed in the Championship level nor got a team promoted (apart from Monaco), it would be a perilous gamble for the club owners who already have already devoted a significant amount of resource and time to the embattled club. Such a risk is not only reckless, but would also rewind any achievements gained if Leicester find themselves stuck in the sand hole that is the Championship. Clubs like Wigan Atheltic, Blackburn Rover, Aston Villa who were once established sides in the Premier League look unlikely to get promoted anytime soon. If sentimentality meant Ranieri was given a chance to bring them up, how would the fans react if that plan had failed and all they had work for in the last 5 years gone tits up. For many fans, I suspect they would find it reprehensible to get back down in the championship considering the effort it took to get promoted in the first place. Not only would the club lose further funding from the EPL, most of the quality players they have now would likely leave, meaning a new rebuild is needed regardless. Staying up in the Premier League is therefore, the most important objective -which was seemingly disappearing game by game under Ranieri.
Bandwagons and History
For those bandwagon ‘Leicester fans’ that are proclaiming the club should go down as a result of the sacking, they clearly fail to understand the whole purpose of the decision was to avoid that exact possibility. What plastic ‘fans’ would want their club to go down? And if you’re not a Leicester fan but decry the lack of loyalty shown here, then those people better wake up to the fact that loyalty in football has been quite dead for a while. Just because the manager did the impossible last season mean he is suitable for the job now. A simple analogy would be like having a doctor perform a miracle operation the year before, but now find himself fucking up the simplest of surgeries. To that effect, any reasonable objective person would know that doctor is no longer fit for the job. Same principles are to be applied here and would mean an instant sacking.
Perhaps these bandwagon fans are not Leicester fans at all, but rather cultists worshipping Claudio Ranieri as their messiah. To that question, it shouldn’t matter what the club does because you were never truly a Leicester fan in the first place. It becomes clear that most people want to see loyalty from the club, but clearly don’t understand that football is all about results and that the Board is acting in its best interest for the future of the club. Just like any player that doesn’t perform, the Board and owner are within their rights to decide what is best for the long run. It almost seems like the detractors crying out for blood for the club, fail to appreciate the complexities of it all.
Perhaps the most damming factor against the continuation of Ranieri at Leicester is that people forget this is a journeymen manager that has his fair share of poor results. Although he has managed countless top clubs like Juventus and Chelsea at his prime, he was almost sacked in most of them. Claudio unfortunately, has a history of mixed bag results after a couple of years with any side. The most infamous example in his managerial career was at Roma where he had a falling out with the team captain Totti due to his constant changes in the starting line-up and shaky defensive tactics (sound familiar?). It was reported widely that the players there had a vote of no confidence which to his eventual resignation after the season. At this stage, you wouldn’t be wrong to think Ranieri’s managerial career sounds like a Shakespearean tragedy dying to repeat itself again and again and again….
Again, I’m not here to slack off Ranieri or suggest anything that he’s an incompetent coach. Much like what happened to David Moyes when he was at our club, I have genuine sympathies for a coach under the circumstances, particularly Ranieri achieved what was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams last season. Looking back at it in hindsight might suggest the Board were quick to overreact, but the points expressed above suggests otherwise. In a world where football is heavily commercialised, loyalty and sentiment doesn’t sustain a club survival. Hard decisions have to be made and for Leicester football club, they had undoubtedly made the most rational choice given the cirucmstances.