As a Leicester City fan, these last couple of days have been a whirlwind of emotions. On Wednesday night, the Foxes travelled to Seville, Spain to take on Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League Last-16. Fortune was on Leicester’s side as Sevilla dominated the first 60 minutes of the game and, had it not been for the heroic performance of Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks, then the tie would have been truly over. It was evident from the moment Danny Drinkwater assisted a Jamie Vardy tap in, the confidence of the team and supporters lifted from rock bottom and seemed to have given some belief that the away goal in a 2-1 defeat could be turned around at an electrifying King Power home atmosphere.
The following evening, as myself and a flatmate are locking our doors to go out and buy some drinks, he told me whether I had heard the news that Ranieri has been sacked. My first reaction to this as I’m turning the key in the door was ‘are you joking?’. He denied he was joking and told me to check Twitter and, as I’m scrolling through the endless Ranieri tweets, my heart sank. At that time it felt surreal and still, a full 24 hours have passed and, I cannot get over the fact that Leicester’s greatest ever manager has been dismissed at this time and in these circumstances.
The decision is certainly a brave one made by owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, and of course got everyone talking. For me, I certainly agree with a lot of the arguments made and think they there are multiple reasons for the downfall of Leicester City and sacking of Claudio Ranieri. An general argument is that modern day managers always take the punishment for collective responsibility and do not get enough time to turn things around. I also believe that Ranieri himself has been slightly exposed this season due to the freak season of last where he had didn’t ‘tinker’ anything when inheriting Nigel Pearson’s squad, tactics and high player morale. The players have to take a big responsibility also, for me they truly have let the manager and the fans down this season, with the hunger to compete severely lacking since nearly all of the squad have reached there footballing pinnacle in terms of winning the Premier League title last season.
We now have to look to the future and, as Leicester City fans, it is something we are finding very hard to do, not only because of winning the title last season, but losing Ranieri this season. A man who looks set to become the new boss is former Leicester City player and Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini. The Italian’s ties with the club are relatively strong and he has, like Ranieri, has managed some of Europe’s top clubs, including 2 spells with Inter Milan, Galatasaray and of course Manchester City. He has been the bookies favourite and after owner Vichai made a statement through his Instagram account, he liked a comment from that post from a Leicester City fan recommending that Mancini should take charge.
His experience of the Premier League is certainly going to help Leicester City, however, like Ranieri, he hasn’t managed a club who are fighting for relegation rather than a league title. Despite that, it is his style of play that could really benefit Leicester City, emphasising a defensive approach and building from the back. Leicester City’s defence this season certainly needs rebuilding, with the centre backs in particular, Wes Morgan and Robert Huth being left exposed and embarrassed at the back for the Foxes this season. He knows how to get clean sheets as he achieved 18 clean sheets with Man City in 2010-11, and if appointed manager, then it means points for Leicester and a chance of escaping the drop zone. He also has a great record in big important games, the standout game of course being the last game of the 2011-12 season vs QPR where Sergio Aguero’s last minute goal meant that Manchester City snatched the title from rivals Manchester United.
If Mancini doesn’t get the job, I would ideally like to see someone like Gary Monk or Gary Rowett take charge. Both men are young, up-and-coming managers who have hunger and desire to be coaching in the top flight. Whilst it would be difficult to lure Gary Monk away from the project he is successfully carrying out at Leeds United, Gary Rowett is currently unemployed and it would be a great reward and justice for him after controversially being sacked by Birmingham City back in December 2016. Like Mancini, Rowett is a former Leicester City player, spending two years at the club between 2000-2002. Both of these managers would also be long term replacements of Ranieri as I cannot see Mancini staying with the club should we get relegated. Whoever does get the job, I am sure that they will get the backing of the fans as we need to stick together more than ever and starting turning our dire form around as soon as possible.
UCFB Football Business & Media Student