The Italian’s Job

It’s been a little over 96 hours since Claudio Ranieri lost his job and I am happy to report that the script is being followed to detail. The owners have already released their statement thanking the Italian for last season but recognizing the need for the shuffle at the helm. Twitter has already had a melt down having the owners for dinner for the unfair sack of Ranieri. The manager has had the customary post-sack visit to the training ground to say farewell to the players and staff before having a 20 second sound byte for the media where he thanks the fans and says his official farewell. and currently pundits and bloggers are out there trading words about whether the decision is right or wrong.so yep.. the camera’s still rolling.

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Perhaps the only wrong the chairman did was offer his unwavering support to the manager two weeks ago then go back on his word and let him loose. I for one wasn’t shocked by his dismissal. In fact, if you take away the fact that Leicester were in the knockout stages  of the CL, his sack would have come even sooner. I mean this is a club that flogged Nigel Pearson out after guiding them to one of the best great escapes yet without batting an eyelid. How were they expected to keep faith with a man who left them one point above relegation zone and are now in the drop zone thanks to results going against them this past weekend with 13 games remaining?

The one excuse Leicester’s sympathizers will automatically run to is his exploits last season. Given, he orchestrated probably the most romantic football love story ever but that was then and this is now.  Most sympathizers are neutrals it has to be said so its probably difficult for all of us to know how the fans feel right about now. We don’t know how it feels to have your team winning the league one season and stare at relegation straight in the face the next. We don’t know how it feels to have your team fail to score since the turn of the year. We don’t know how it feels to see your star players wander about like a couple of blind folks in the dark. So before we start judging, put yourself in their shoes.

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This is the harsh reality of modern football. There is no loyalty in football nowadays and I honestly do not understand this unrest. Surely, how long were we expecting Ranieri to be given? Last season doesn’t account for two cents in the present time. as correctly stated in the guardian “A manager who is unable to prevent his side sliding out of a division is unlikely to be the best choice to lead them back in it”.

We can’t act like he did nothing wrong. For one the mistake started with his recruitment during the summer. A big part of this has been contributed to losing Steve Walsh to Everton. They let go of the man responsible for scouting Mahrez and Kante. The loss of Kante set the manager in a  panic mood and he sought to bolster up his squad due to CL involvement and he ultimately failed to boost the most important part, the defence. Over the last two seasons Leicester have been instrumental in showing us what a good defence really gets you and Pearson proved that by winning 7 of his last 9 games to set them up for the great escape. Last season Ranieri  also had his say as we were treated to what a good back-line gets you and the 1-0 wins during the second half of last season clearly shows us why they won the league. Much of this has to be because of the fact that Kante was screening the back-line and made all the tackles. He is the notable absentee this season but his absence can’t be the sole reason for their current predicament. The average age of their starting 11 back four is 31.25. In the PL? surely that is unacceptable (Gareth McAuley is the exception and not the norm). There has been a genuine lack of pace at the back and its not the same as last season as the fullbacks made driving runs and often started most of their moves.

Their defending has also been comical and in the expert analysis on TalkSport a few days ago, due to the lack of protection at the back, Morgan is actually getting drawn to challenges that Kante was mopping up last season hence being pulled out. Huth meanwhile knows he doesn’t have the legs and tends to fall deep. What happens is there is a pretty big gap left by the players’ alternate movements an its quite easier for forwards to ghost in there and apply the finishing touch  to a good ball in.

morgan-and-huth

His reputation was also his undoing. The tinkerman tinkered too much with his squad this season. In the PL winning season, you could name his starting 11 days before a match and there was obvious chemistry there. Due to CL involvement, he’s had to change his team and change his tactics on the way too. This hasn’t worked out so well for him and it’s hard to name his starting 11. Ndidi, Mendy and the likes haven’t been as stellar as they were required to be.

However one can’t help but feel that players had a great hand in this. Reports surfaced about the meeting in Seville after their CL match where senior players Kasper Schemichel, Marc Albrighton, Wes Morgan and Jamie Vardy met with the owners and expressed their unhappiness with the manager and claimed he was using wrong tactics. There was also talk of a falling out with his assistant manager. Let’s hope the sack wasn’t because of the players’ sentiments because if it did, that would be disgraceful and outrageous. COLD. It seems these four players have automatically overtook Fabian Delph as the ultimate EPL snakes. These players are basically championship caliber at best bar Schemichel. For them to go behind his back and do that after granting them the best achievements of their lives? Blimey!

This was another case where the players walked away Scot free yet they are solely to be blamed. They have been so indifferent this year. Mahrez has looked disinterested and it seems relegation won’t be the worst thing for him. He’ll certainly be gobbled up by a PL club at the end of the season regardless. Vardy has suddenly lost his work-rate and can’t seem to get off the pitch sooner. Schemichel’s decision to come out and actually speak to the media the other week certainly didn’t help. The fact that he is such a big dressing room figure and for him to go out and say those things, it showed a certain hint of losing the dressing room as it’s the manager who would be tasked to explain those sentiments. Those are the type of things you discuss behind close doors. Tell your mates not the whole world!

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Ranieri was certainly bold in openly challenging the players to got to the chairman if they were unhappy. It seems it did happen and it exploded in his face. As Mourinho put it, Ranieri paid for his success. He was being judged by what he achieved and there’s no shame in that. That’s how it is. The easiest thing to do is always to sack the manager because you can’t sack 11 players. Somebody has to be held responsible and unfortunately for Ranieri, the buck stopped with him. Ranieri was too loyal to his players and he openly admitted that. Perhaps he should have seen the warning signs quicker and not stuck by his star players notably Vardy and Mahrez.

vardy-mahrez

Nothing was changing so he had to go. This is a result industry and the Italian was not just producing them. Everyone is acting like this is the first good guy to lose his job. Mancini won the league and he was sacked, Pellegrini won successive trophies and he was let go, Ancelotti delivered silverware and was sacked, Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez won the two major European trophies  and were cast out, Ancelotti delivered La Decima and he was let go and Mourinho delivered the title 18 months ago and he was spit out without any remorse. So boo hoo FIFA Coach of the Year, get in line Claudio. Dilly Ding Dilly Dong.

 

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