Two hundred and ninety-eight days were all it took for Leicester City to go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Two hundred and ninety-eight days between pulling off a shocking title upset to being locked in a relegation battle, desperately trying to avoid the drop.
To say that Leicester has been terrible this season is an understatement, much like saying that Head Coach John Thompson III has done a poor job with the Georgetown basketball team this season.
But more importantly, 298 days were all that Claudio Ranieri had left as manager of that wonderfully spirited team.
A mere two weeks after being publicly told that he had the full support of the Leicester City Board of Directors, its players and its supporters, Ranieri was sacked. His final game in charge was the 2-1 loss to Sevilla in the Champions League on Feb. 22.
With the loss of Ranieri, it appears that Leicester’s slim Champions League title hopes have vanished as well.
It certainly is an interesting move on the part of Leicester City to part ways with its charming manager. Ranieri was one of the most well-liked individuals within the entire Premier League, and his cheerful demeanor on the pitch will be missed.
While it is true that some drastic action needed to be taken in order to prevent Leicester from becoming the first reigning champion since Manchester City in the 1937-38 season to get relegated, I wholeheartedly disagree with the decision to fire Ranieri.
It is obvious that something has gone dreadfully wrong for Leicester this season. The magical spark that blew teams out of the water last year has simply vanished, leaving behind a team that has yet to even score in England in 2017.
As it has been mentioned many times, Leicester has sorely missed N’Golo Kante, who left this summer for Chelsea.
Coupled with the fact that Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez seem far removed from the players who tore up the league last year, it is no wonder that Leicester is looking like a very different team.
Ranieri tried his best with the squad he was given. Some things, such as Kasper Schmeichel’s hand injury, were utterly beyond Ranieri’s control. And, like every manager, the Italian made questionable lineup decisions at times.
There was also the matter of the unfortunate feud of sorts with disgruntled striker Leonardo Ulloa, who claimed that Ranieri betrayed him over a lack of playing time. There have been reports that Ranieri lost the support of his dressing room, a tale that is eerily similar to the one that saw reigning champion Jose Mourinho get fired by Chelsea last year. It is a telling sign that practically no Leicester player has spoken out in support of Ranieri since the news broke that he was fired.
Frankly, it is disappointing and rather disgusting. Ranieri defied the odds last year to lead the unlikeliest bunch to its first Premier League title in history. Beloved by the fans and even other managers, Ranieri is a highly likeable man.
It is utterly heartbreaking to hear Ranieri say that his dream died as a result of being fired and many supporters absolutely do not agree with the actions taken by the board. This was the Italian’s only title in his career, and it has always been very evident that Ranieri loved the Fox fans just as much as they loved him.
What I find most troubling is that Leicester City publicly voiced support for its beleaguered manager — giving Ranieri confidence and belief — only to pull a complete 180 and let him go. If Leicester knew that it was going to fire Ranieri, the club should not have made such a statement.
It was cruel not only to the man himself, but also to the supporters who believed in Ranieri.
It is a move that will ultimately backfire. The supporters are disgruntled, and caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare has the unseemly job of motivating a squad that has been utterly lifeless to perform well enough not only in the regular league, but also in Champions League.
In all likelihood, Leicester City will go down this season, and its so-called stars Vardy and Mahrez will leave the club, paving the way for a mass exodus.
The decision to fire Ranieri also comes at a bit of a strange time. Leicester owed it to the man to let him finish out the season, considering all that Ranieri has done for the club. Instead, everyone is left unhappy and facing a period of upheaval.
Ranieri deserved better.
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