Friday, March 10, 2017

It takes a lot to overshadow Jose Mourinho becoming the first Manchester United manager to win a trophy in his first season in charge of the club by winning the EFL Cup 3-2 against Southampton at Wembley.
But there is only one story to come from the past week and it’s one that showed the ugly side of soccer. Unbelievably, Claudio Ranieri has been sacked as manager of Leicester City less than nine months after he guided the club to the Premier League title. Yes, that’s right. Little old Leicester City sacked the manager who masterminded the greatest shock and possibly the greatest achievement in English soccer history.
When the news broke on Thursday (the day after Leicester City lost 2-1 away from home to Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 first leg) the footballing world was in shock at what they were hearing and reading. Nearly everyone on twitter, from ex-pros to pundits to fans, were in agreement that it was a silly decision to make even though Leicester weren’t having as good a year as they were this time last year.
There was a small minority who agreed with the Leicester chairman and, to be honest, each and every one of those people sum up everything that is wrong in the modern game of soccer.
When Claudio Ranieri took over Leicester City in the summer of 2015 he was given a brief and that brief was to keep Leicester City in the Premier League and to try and build from there.
The year before Ranieri took over, the club avoided relegation by winning seven of their last nine games which took them from bottom of the table in mid-April to 14th  in May. This was a great achievement for a club who looked doomed for the majority of the season. Their previous manager, Nigel Pearson, was sacked for off-field reasons and so Claudio Ranieri took over. What happened next was wonderful and unexpected.
Leicester City had their greatest day by winning the Premier League title. Even as I type that, it still looks wrong.
This season they haven’t been having the greatest campaign domestically, or so it may seem. But I’m not so sure about that. Since the Premier League was rebranded in 1992-93, Leicester City have only been in the league for 11 seasons with three relegations, so they aren’t exactly Premier League regulars. In fact, they were outside of the Premier League for 10 years before they got promoted in the 2013-14 season. Their highest finish in any season bar last season was eighth.
Apart from the Premier League and a few Championship/old Second Division titles, the only trophies that Leicester City had won were three League Cups.
The reason I am mentioning all of this is because Claudio Ranieri has been a victim of his own success and the greed of the club’s owners. What did the owners expect to happen? Did they think they would automatically be challenging for the Premier League title every year?
Most the players Ranieri won the league with were journeymen and he got them playing an exciting brand of football and playing as a team. It worked for them. It also helped that the other teams all seemed to have mediocre seasons which allowed Leicester to nip in to win the league. The freak season Leicester had was winning the Premier League, not this season where they are in a relegation battle.
If Leicester were to be relegated this season, would it be the worst thing to ever happen the club? Probably not. Of course, their fans would be disappointed about not being in the Premier League but if you had have told them two years ago that Leicester would win the Premier League and then be relegated, I think a lot of the fans would have jumped at that opportunity.
Leicester City are a yo-yo club (get promoted and then relegated quite often) and yet still they are one of only six teams who have won the Premier League title out of the 47 clubs that have competed in the competition.
Do you think Leicester fans would trade places and history with any of the other 41 teams, or even with the likes of Everton who have never been relegated from the Premier League? No chance. They have done something that most clubs can only dream of.
Claudio Ranieri should still be manager of Leicester City. Whether or not he has been shafted by his players or the club is irrelevant. They should be building statues of him, naming their ground after him and giving him the freedom of the city for the joy that he has brought to the club and the city of Leicester and the smiles he has brought to the faces of anyone that has watched a press conference of his.
He is a very dignified person and his classy statement after the announcement was testament to that. I hope we see him back in the Premier League sooner rather than later because the place is worse off without him there.

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