Oh, Claudio…

So it’s been a few days now since the shock news that was that Claudio Ranieri lost his job as Leicester City manager and now the dust has settled, I thought it was my time to write a small post on the man that led a team to do the impossible.

Just 9 months ago, Claudio Ranieri helped lead a group of, let’s be honest, extremely average players to one of the most remarkable footballing accomplishments ever to happen in modern day era; the perfect storm. It’s what football manager dreams are made of and even then I think you would struggle to replicate it without playing with the settings. Now he’s no longer the Leicester City manager and soon after the news was broken he said that his “dream died” when he was relieved of his duties. This news came as a shock to everyone, considering that 2 weeks prior to this, the Leicester City hierarchy had offered him their “unwavering support” saying that the club’s success was “based firmly on stability, togetherness and determination to overcome even the greatest of challenges”. Oh, how two weeks can change people’s minds.

Who else didn’t see this coming?

We all know the story of last year, Leicester upset all the odds to win the Premier League and yes it’s probably one the most incredible thing to happen in this league since Arsenal went the season unbeaten, well your views might differ if you are not an Arsenal fan. Last year’s success was just unbelievable, even more so now. But Ranieri had Leicester playing a brand of football, that was not necessarily, the brand of football that everyone in the football community may have enjoyed, but they were playing winning football. Managers knew exactly how they were going to set up and how they were going to go about it, but you couldn’t stop it. They lost just three games all season, two of those to my beloved Arsenal. Jaime Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kanté were the three key players that were at times, just simply unplayable. Vardy with his pace, Mahrez with his trickery, and Kanté with his tenacity but also others within the squad that just seemed to put in a performance every week like Danny Drinkwater and Wes Morgan.

Now winning the league is clearly going to attract some attention especially if you are a team like Leicester, your players are clearly talented. Leicester would obviously want to keep hold of their stars and offered them some big contracts to ward off the biggest teams.It wored for the most part, although they did lose Kanté to Chelsea, for what seems now like a very modest fee. It will be interesting to see whether he can keep up this sort of form when he’s surely playing regular midweek games next season, i’m sure he will but we haven’t seen that yet. But anyway Leicester managed to keep most of the spine and squad players that helped them win the league and the streamlining of the squad put them in a very strong position. With the recruitment of some big names like  Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa Leicester looked very set to maybe not to defend their title but at least cement themselves a future as a top half team. Although looking back, why on earth did they sign so many strikers, I do not know.

It’s just not the same as before…

But from the opening day, this Leicester team just didn’t look like the same team that won the league just a few months previous,  a loss to a managerless Hull City team that were not given a hope of staying up by many. From then on it just seemed that Leicester were not bothered by the Premier League at all, although they seemed to love the bright lights of the Champions League. After that, we all know the story, a string of indifferent results left them staring relegation square in the face and the eventual sacking of the FIFA manager of the year 2016.

But should Leicester be in this position even though they have won the league in the previous season? I have heard quite a few people say that they should be down near the bottom of the league even though they won the league this year and that Raneiri should have keep his job. Well to a degree I think that is a valid point, they don’t have the same budget as your Arsenal’s and Chelsea’s and they are not as ‘big’ as that sort of team. Also other teams have strengthened and changed their managers. Another argument is that they don’t have the same pulling power as the top teams. But the fact remains: they won the league last year!

Tell me what’s going wrong, Craig?!

They can clearly compete on that level! They have invested a lot of money in the team this season and unfortuntley their signings this year, just haven’t had the same successful impact as last years signings did. I think it really does boil down to the fact that it just seemed that the players didn’t believe in Raneiri anymore, maybe were confused by his ideas. Last year he didn’t change much and he kept the tactics very similar whoever they played whereas this year it has felt like they have been chopping and changing their tactics and players are confused about the role that they needed to play. Look at Chelsea this season, after a poor string of results and a change of tactics, Conte went back to what he knew best, now look at them – players seem to like consistency.

I’m writing this the day after Leicester’s first game without Raneiri and they have just put a very poor Liverpool to the sword and won 3-1. If you were watching Leicester for the first time, you’d be wondering what all the fuss was about and they were right to sack Ranieri. I completely agree with what was said on monday night football by Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville. There has defintely been a shift in the player’s mentality and their desire and as Gary said “They just worked harder. It’s as simple as that,”. Click the link and everything that Gary Neville said is what I was thinking during that game.

Can we really blame the guy with a really long name for parting company with Ranieri? Yes it was an extremely deceitful act considering he had previously backed the manager, but there is a reason that these men are successful business men. They are willing to make the tough decisions and any sentimental value is cast aside. At this moment in time it is looking like a decision, that broke a lot of hearts at the time, it’s looking like the right one- bet some Arsenal fans are forever hoping for the same. If Leicester can replicate the same levels of performance and intensity levels that we all saw on Monday night against Liverpool then Leicester should be a Premier League side next year, though I doubt that many teams will now leave themselves as vulnerable as Liverpool did.

Okay, let’s turn it on now lads.

So who is likely to take the hotseat at Leicester? Honestly I don’t think that the Leicester hierarchy will take any action till after their match with Hull, so Craig Shakespeare will probably continue his role as caretaker boss. But, Craig Shakespeare has already put himself in the hat and why not? The players, by all accounts, seem to respect him and he was the man in charge when they ceased the five game winless streak that landed them in the relgation places. He clearly wants the job too which is a bonus and he knows all the players and their strengths. I think it makes logical sense. However other names being thrown around. Nigel Pearson to make a return to the King Power was heavily rumoured before last night’s game. Will Leicester want him and his ostrich antics back? Roy Hogson has also been rumoured to be interested in the job. Other names include Guss Hiddink and Alan Pardew. But honestly I think that if you go for someone from the outside you do run the risk of doing what Newcastle did last year and end up bringing in someone who needs to change too much in such a small timescale and doesn’t know the players that well and potentially not get the desired results. Luckily for Newcastle they managed to keep Rafa Benítez in the summer and the ‘raffalution’ is looking extremely promising for Newcastle to return to the top flight.

In summary then – Leicester, I think that you have made one of the most horrible, gut-wrenching decision you could possibly ever have to make as a owner of a football club, but it was the correct decision to part company with Raneiri for the sake of the survival of your club in the Premier League. Something had to change and you can’t sack the players because it’s not like you can get anyone else in, but luckily you can with managers. As my Dad likes to tell me everytime we talk about football – the difference between players and managers is that the players have the better contracts. True to a degree, unless you are Arsené Wenger.