Dumped Claudio Ranieri’s sacking is sad but modern football means Leicester couldn’t afford to be romantic
The party is over, that bell has finally tolledforClaudioRanieri…whatever line you want to use from last season that has now been completely inverted, not even this story could evade football’s own bottom line. It is sad.
One of the sport’s greatest achievements, a fantastically endearing tale that was supposed to defy so many of the capitalistic trappings of the modern game, has merely reinforced just how brutal football is in the fiercest way. Not even its closest equivalent to alife-affirmingmiraclecouldgranta stay of execution.
All of that means, from a sentimental and emotional perspective, Leicester City’s decision is an unbelievablyharshandmaybeevenunfair decision. Bambi, to borrow former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd’sphrase,hasbeenshot.Isit harshorunfairfromapurelyfootball orlogicalperspective,though?That’s a lot more difficult to say – if not quite as difficult as Ranieri might have found it to keep Leicester up.
The bottom line with this team is that something was fundamentally broken within it. Something there-
AP fore had to change. While this doesn’t mean the players should be absolved, the reality of football - not to mention its legal structures - ensure it is much easier to just get rid of the manager. Thatwillbecomealltheclearerwhen you’re drastically running out of time, as Leicester are. One fair argument throughout all of this has been that they could have picked a more understandable time, especially since it was literally the day before - and Jamie Vardy’s rousing away goal in the 2-1 defeat to Sevilla - that Leicester finally had something to offer encouragement; finallysomethingthatsuggestedthis situation might be fixable. Danny Simpson even said after that game that he could feel the confidence returning after Vardy’s strike. “You could tell by the way we played after that.Someofthestuffweplayed,maybe we could have got 2-2. You know, 2-1 and a good performance, we have givenourselvesachancebackhome.”
Thestrongcounter-argumenttoallof thatisthatitwouldbeludicroustobase such a decision on one moment’s play and a punt on “mentality”, when there are hours of evidence to the contrary, not least the other 89 minutes of this match. Instead, the defeat to Sevilla probably definitively displayed why this situation was unfixable.
The heightened atmosphere of the Champions League didn’t, in fact, restore a heightened level of performance in Leicester. They were dismal. The defence was so exposed, the team selection was wrong with the choice of Ahmed Musa, and there didn’t seem any kind of possibility whatsoever that Ranieri could outthink Jorge Sampaoli to somehow go through. It was merely blind luck, great goalkeeping and some poor finishing that the English champions - a status that now seems even more surreal — didn’t get humiliated.
Itwouldalsobewrongtosaythatthe players haven’t been trying. These situations are rarely so simplistic.
It’s just that the connection that was so key to making it all work last season is gone. Whereas absolutely everything clicked together then and Ranieri supremely surfed and directed a fine club structure, he just hasn’t known how to react to any of it this season, particularly the changes to that structure. He hasn’t come close tofiguringouthowtostartreshaping the team without N’Golo Kante, and thathas set a pattern whereby almost every decision he’s made has worsened the situation.