Eamon Dunphy aside, the common reaction to the sacking of Premier League winning manager Claudio Ranieri by Leicester City has been one of shock and revulsion. This is even worse than the respective sackings of David Moyes and Louis Van Gael. In both of these cases, there was an outcry about how the situation was handled. One of the main reasons being that news of the sacking had been leaked to the media hours before they were officially announced.
This is much worse. Its goes without saying how incredible Ranieri’s feat was – he transformed Leicester from relegation strugglers to English Champions in the space of one season. More remarkable still is how miniscule the budget was in contrast to English powerhouses Manchester United and Manchester City. However, the fact that Ranieri was sacked a year after pulling off these amazing achievements shows utter disrespect to the Barclays Premier League.
It’s disrespectful due to the lack of gratitude and appreciation of the hard work that the management team had put into each game. If not for maintaining the work rate, fitness of team throughout that title winning season, for the tactical nuance of the management staff in developing schemes to overcome teams with far more resources than Ranieri’s board of management could provide.
Board sackings tend to fall into two categories. Either poor use of extensive resources, Jose Mourinhio at Chelsea being a case to point, or a manager’s failure to improve on already struggling squad. Raneiri’s case was unlike either of these categories. Ranieri established an element of consistency to Leicester that had not been there in over one hundred years of the club’s existence. Claudio could not be accused of poor use of resources either, having shrewdly acquired players of the quality of Kante, who went on to star for France in their run to the Euro 2016 final.
Usually the very least a manager deserves for securing a title for a club is job security. That would be the case in any other job, let alone another sport. It is sad that normal practices of Human Resource Management has not been applied in quite no time. The slogan – ‘it is a business’ has clearly been used to conceal the denial of human rights, the effects of which are on display in Ranieri’s farewell statement, ‘after the euphoria of last season and being crowned champions, all I dreamt of was staying with Leicester. Sadly this was not to be,’ Ranieri said. ‘The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever. My heartfelt thanks to everybody at the club, everybody who was part of what we achieved, but mostly to the supporters. You took me into your hearts from day one and loved me. I love you too’. He continued to say, ‘no-one can ever take away what we achieved together and I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will. It was a time of wonderfulness and happiness that I will never forget. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to be a champion with all of you.’
True, Leicester have had their struggles – they are currently a point away from the relegation zone, having already been knocked out of the FA cup days ago. However, this is down to players not taking responsibility for their performances on the pitch. Those who approve of the sacking say that Ranieiri lost the dressing room. Quite frankly, Claudio Ranieiri owes Leicester City nothing, least of all to his former players. To have achieved the impossible, winning the Premier League with Leicester and proved it possible, flipping modern footballing history on its head one would think Ranieiri would have been politically unsackable. With run of the mill and mid-table managerial positions in the Premier League, one bad season, or faltering start can quickly wear the club’s ownerships patience. The transience of most managers positions is very much tied to immediate and week to week results. The huge sums of money swirling around the English League mean clubs don’t like to sink an entire season and potential drop out of the top tier (losing lucrative TV rights revenue streams) just to keep faith with a losing manager. But Ranieiri most would say had earned the right, and then some to suffer a relegation and then be giving a crack at getting the side out of the Championship and back into the Premier League.
Additionally, the interim Leicester City manager, one of the few who can speak with authority about what happened within that Leicester squad, insists that his former boss did not lose the dressing room, saying, ‘there was a lot of frustration because of the results, but he had not lost the dressing room,’ Craig Shakespeare said. ‘A lot of the talk of unrest has been speculation. I’ve not had one problem with the players. I always feel sorry when people lose their jobs. My relationship with Claudio has been fine all along. I spoke to him last night and he thanked me for my support throughout. It was not brief and we exchanged views. A lot of what we said will stay private. Whether I think it’s right or not is irrelevant,’ he added. ‘We all know in football people lose their jobs because of results – and the results haven’t been good enough. He will get the utmost respect in terms of what he has achieved with this club.’
There is no doubt that this will leave a sour taste in football for some time yet. The callousness and brutality of the modern game for managers, and apparent impatience of clubs ownership showed its true colours with the Ranieiri sacking. But the fans, both in Leicester and all around the footballing world will remember what Claudio Ranieiri did at Leicester City.
Conor Lynott | Sports Editor