The football world was largely left mortified just under a week ago after title winning manager Claudio Ranieri was relieved of his duties as manager of Leicester City. More than just the loss of a job, Ranieri’s demise from absolute hero to zero was somewhat typically made complete after his struggling side fought back to earn a highly commendable away goal against Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League. For Leicester City fans, as their highly spoke of European tour and season in the sun as reigning Premier League champions come to an end, the end of the road for the Italian meanwhile served for many as a metaphor of modern football.
Like many a medieval tale of deceit and despair, the highly likeable main character Claudio appeared to be seemingly stabbed in the back by his former friends now foes and his fall from grace ultimately proved meteoric. And for a man of such integrity and class from the very start of his tenure as Foxes manager, it was not so much that one of the most unbelievable fairy tales of recent times eventually came to an end but more so that for the success that Ranieri brought to the King Power last May, his service not just for the club but widely speaking for the city in general had clearly earned a much more respectful and befitting ending.
Inevitably all good things do come to an end. Yet in a sport dictated more and more by a select few clubs that are simply capable of being able afford la créme de la créme of European Football and are able to comfortably part with the largest sum of money in transfer negotiations, a story quite like Leicester City’s is remarkable, perhaps viewed even as impossible by many prior to the Foxes defying all odds and achieving the unthinkable. This making Ranieri’s feats all the more impressive in the modern climate, it is therefore understandable why many question why the club haven’t already commissioned a statue of who Leicester City described as the ‘most successful and best manager in their entire history’ instead of sacking the man in what looks more and more like a knee-jerk reaction to a bad season thus far.
After the now infamous dreaded vote of confidence little over a month ago, with the benefit of hindsight you could perhaps say that it was from this point when the writing was already on the wall for Claudio. Through their decision to cut their cloth accordingly and sacrifice any notion of romance in modern football in favour of a much more robust approach to operating as a top flight club in English football, Leicester City’s owners were seemingly prepared to take the short-term hit and consequent spate of public outrage in the hope of a much longer-term gain. An incredibly big and brave call no matter what your industry but when you’re the one with the financial resources, what does a potential fairytale ending or disaster matter when you’re going to be the villain in somebody’s eyes anyway?
Nobody other than the club’s owners, players and supporting hierarchy may ever know why, other than his side’s league performances on the pitch this season that Ranieri was given the sack with less than a third of the league season remaining. Speculation would suggest that it was player power that forced the hands that be but what happens in the both the boardroom and changing room should rightly stay inside the confines of four walls.
What is now imperative for the Foxes and all those involved at the football club however is to now cast aside any feelings of both disappointment and disillusion and to try and show a mere tenth of the togetherness that they repeatedly demonstrated week in, week out last season. As questionable of a decision that Ranieri’s departure may still yet prove to be, the fight for survival isn’t over until it’s over and with Leicester one of at least five or six teams that could fall into the dreaded drop zone, whilst they face the real threat of being the only reigning league champions in Premier League history to be relegated a season later, even if Lady Luck hasn’t been on their side of late at least time and a number of league games remaining most certainly are.
Meanwhile for a team that helped create one of the most romantic sporting stories in the world football last season and for some years to come, there are perhaps few more deserving candidates for the vacant managerial role than somebody with the surname Shakespeare. A city more widely known for Richard III than Macbeth, just as Leicester wouldn’t want to have wanted to be neither dilly-dinged nor dilly-donged into the Sky Bet Championship next season, you can’t help but think that we shouldn’t even be having the discussion of to be or not to be in the top flight of English football next season. Should Leicester once again defy all odds and beat the drop with the odds stacked against them, Ranieri’s quick exit at stage-left may well prove to be a wise one . Right now however, for the good of the sport as a wider spectacle, just like a Shakespearean play on stage there are few that enjoy an unhappy ending such as this; one that leaves an incredibly bitter taste after the sweet feeling of success last campaign.
Nonetheless whilst football fans continue to weep at the demise of our main protagonist The Tinkerman, let’s hope that tragedy can again transform into utter jubilation and as Ranieri and Leicester City carve their own future paths that it all proves to be much ado about nothing.