In 2015, with Leicester rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, manager Nigel Pearson appeared to be seriously losing the plot.
A week wouldn’t go by without a controversial comment, telling a fan to ‘f*ck off and die' or even an incident on the pitch. Most famously he bizarrely asked a journalist if they were an ostrich, and then proceed to tell him that he was more flexible than him anyway.
|My thoughts too, Claudio.|
What happened next was incredible. Leicester won six of their last eight games to complete the impossible job and survive relegation, even finishing in 14th. The ridiculed Pearson was now a genius, having turned it all around.
Although at one point it appeared that Pearson had been sacked, and then reinstated, he had managed to keep his job despite all being lost.
Pearson would eventually be sacked in the summer following a controversial incident with his son and two other young Leicester players in their post-season tour of Thailand, but it doesn’t detract that he had been afforded the chance to turn it around. Pearson had of course got them up in fantastic style the season before, winning the Championship at a canter.
It was his mess to clean up.
And yet, the same can not be said for Claudio Ranieri.
Following the miracle season that was 2015-16, Leicester had fast become many’s second favourite team. I was one of many willing The Foxes on to win the league. This was in no small part down to Ranieri. A bubbly character and clearly a real gentleman, you couldn’t help but like him. It was the perfect story for a man who had not won a league title before, despite having managed to a high level throughout his coaching career.
Winning the league with a defence containing Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson is no mean feat. Coaching Jamie Vardy to score 24 league goals, and Danny Drinkwater the lynch-pin a driving force in Leicester’s midfield. You would think a man who could do this would have a job for life, no matter what.
With his side still in the Champions League (with a rather excellent result away at a fantastic Sevilla side), Ranieri has been ruthlessly dismissed.
And in the wake of this news it appears that this has come as a result a set of players forcing the manager out. Let’s just pause on that thought. Who on earth do these players think they are? Without this man, no one would have remembered who you were. Your vastly improved salaries (300% improvement for some) would not have come about without him.
It is shocking.
|My single favourite moment EVER|
Furthermore, did people really expect Wes Morgan to continue playing like Franco Baresi? Or Jamie Vardy to continue scoring at such a rate? This was a team of Championship footballers, plus N’Golo Kante (who’s absence is more obvious as times go by), what was really going to happen?
Had Leicester finished 15th last season, no one would be batting an eye-lid at their performances this season. All Leicester City, the club and their players, have done is show great disloyalty to the person who brought them the greatest success in their history. They have become emblematic of all that is wrong with modern football.
Leicester may well keep their place in the Premier League for another season, but what they have lost is a significant amount of good will.
Let’s just hope they do the right thing and give that man a statue.