Poor Claudio. Poor poor Claudio. Dilly Ding, Dilly GONE! Let’s take a look at some of the key factors that have led to the sacking of the lovable Italian.
Winning the Title
Ironically, the success of last season put increased pressure on the Italian this time around. Deeper pockets, higher expectations and Champions League football all brought huge levels of excitement, but also a high degree of unfamiliarity. The highs of last year were never going to be repeated, but deep down, many Leicester fans were feeling that this could be the beginning of life at the top table. At the beginning when things weren’t going to plan, they were still living off the Euphoria of last year’s triumph. As we passed Christmas, there was further deterioration and a lack of confidence. In fairness to Ranieri, he refused to get flustered and maintained a degree of calmness throughout and a hope that things would get better. He kept the faith with his regulars. His heroes of last season. Big-money names Musa, Mendy & Slimani failed to take the team to the next level. Expectation was falling flat on it’s face. Ultimately, the massive achievement of last year was the awkward reminder that the team weren’t performing to anywhere near their potential.
Let’s be honest, you can’t make guacamole without an avocado. N’Golo Kanté was the avocado last year. His energy, tenacity, simplicity and determination has seen him propel a heartless Chelsea to the top of the able (albeit with an extremely talented coach). It is cliché to say that he was the heart of the team, but it is true. He allowed the likes of Mahrez, Drinkwater, Vardy, Albrighton to create and attack without fear.You can’t put a price on his importance to the team and he deserves the Player of the Year award without doubt. Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool are just some of the teams that lack this type of player and it shows in their Goals Conceded column. They have all let in at least 10 more goals then Chelsea this year. Ranieri was hoping that Mendy or even new signing Ndidi could be the solution to this problem. It hasn’t happened. Put Kanté back in that team and I have a strong feeling we’d be discussing how great Leicester are doing to consolidate a mid-table position. He was THAT important.
Players who lack multi competition experience
Sometimes the Champions League can be the poison chalice. Yes, we never expected Leicester to win the league, but there isn’t a hope they are going to win the Champions League. That extra midweek game has seen some of the best clubs throughout the years struggle, let alone little old Leicester. The need for a deeper squad, increased rotation and the gelling of these newbies all proved a bit rushed. Whilst they managed to exceed expectations in Europe, their league form struggled. They lack players with the experience to deal with the 3 day turnaround and it has proved extremely difficult. The extra travel. Less recovery time and match preparation. Huth, Morgan, Drinkwater, Fuchs, Mahrez, Okazaki, Vardy. These guys haven’t done this before on a consistent basis. And whilst the acquisition of some players with Champions League experience was seen as a must, I’m not sure how many players were willing to take a gamble on Leicester. “If I go here, yes, I’ll play in Europe for the season, but what will happen beyond that?!”. It is great to see them do so well in Europe, however Ranieri wasn’t able to get the balancing act right, which may have been somewhat out of his hands.
I was disgusted to hear the reports that the players turned against him. It is something that we see more and more of in the world of football. We’ve seen it in the past with Carlos Tevez refusing to play. More recently with the likes of Payet and Ulloa. Before long, we will be looking at a game that is controlled by players and agents. It is very disappointing to hear the reports that the players held a meeting with the owners to ultimately oust Claudio and send him packing. I compare them to the millennials, they are always looking for more! The same man that bought them pizza for keeping a clean sheet last season and epitomised a tight-knit team spirit. Not once did he shift the blame directly on any of the players when he was well in his rights too. A misfiring Vardy has looked clueless and angry. Mahrez , with a lack of interest and hunger to take control as he did last season. Morgan and Huth looking more like the players they have been throughout their whole careers. Average. You could go through the whole squad. Yet, the one that takes the hit is the manager. Disappointing that the players haven’t taken the responsibility themselves.
Whatever happens next, Ranieri can leave with his head held high and his pride intact. He brought humour and a refreshing quirkiness to the Premier League. He will always be remembered as the man who led lowly Leicester to THE most extraordinary title winning story of all time. Some fans have been left speechless and heartbroken by his departure, but he will live long in their fondest memories. Also, that random punter who backed them at 5000/1 will be forever indebted to Mr. Tinkerman.