Why Leicester City should sack Claudio Ranieri
Leicester City need to wake up and smell the coffee, they are in a huge mess. Despite the economic benefits of winning the Premier League and having a team that includes the PFA Player of the Year, they are just one point away from being swallowed up by the relegation zone. With just two league victories since October 22, something must change or the Foxes could face the drop.
However, the answer to their strife could very much lie with the future of Claudio Ranieri and it may be time for the Italian to go. Stick with me on this.
One of the biggest reasons why people are afraid to say that is because of what happened last season. Ranieri turned a team that had just consolidated their promotion into a side, despite 5,000-1 odds, that raced their way to the Premier League title. It was the miracles to end all miracles and is the reason why the King Power Stadium faithful can boast that they are champions of the realm.
It is an astonishing achievement, beyond comprehension and that should never be doubted. The question is though, should Ranieri really be retained for the purpose of sentiment? Just because it would seem unfair? At least for the sake of Leicester’s survival chances, the answer is no.
Many people expected the Foxes to be challenging for the top four this season or, at the very least, to be holding their place in the top half of the table. Sure, they were certified relegation candidates before their title charge but last season finely demonstrated what the squad at the King Power is capable of. This is a team that has held the Premier League title in its hands and a team that put Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham to the sword.
Simply put, it’s a team that should not be contemplating the reality of Championship football. It is abundantly clear that whether it be on the grounds of tactics, motivation or desire, the Foxes are stagnating at both a historic and worrying rate.
Jamie Vardy sits with just six goals to his name this season with half of them coming in one match and Riyad Mahrez can’t top the league tally of Scott Dann. Danny Drinkwater has reverted to looking completely out of his depth in the Premier League and the cavity left by N’Golo Kante is yawning by the day. As for the defence, it’s barely worth talking about.
Ranieri has chopped and changing the team all season long and to no great avail. Furthermore, what seemed fantastic signings this summer have done nothing but pollute the cohesion of the squad with an influx of heavy wages and big egos. Ahmed Musa has scored just two league goals this season, Nampalys Mendy is embarrassingly inconsistent and Bartosz Kapustska has achieved the square root of nothing.
It seems that the Tinkerman is no longer able to tinker his way out of problems, make suitable additions to the team and instil any passion in his team. However, should we really be surprised? After all, Ranieri’s recent managerial history doesn’t read well. The fact he was sacked after just four games in charge of Greece in 2014 perhaps suggests that the concerns of the summer of 2015 were, in the end, accurate.
There is even reason to suggest that Ranieri might not be the happy-go-lucky manager he appears in the press, in his own dressing room. Leonardo Ulloa’s accusations of ‘betrayal’ demonstrates friction within the squad and hints that the Italian could be losing his grip on the team.
In addition, the impact of a new manager cannot be underestimated. The appointments of Marco Silva at Hull City and Paul Clement at Swansea City both proved shady at best, yet their sheer appointments have served to propel their sides’ fight against the drop. Meanwhile Leicester are entangled in a viciously downward spiral, unable to escape it with the same old confusing systems week in, week out.
Even the Foxes’ Champions League campaign is showing signs of erosion – an anomalous positive in the early months of the season. Despite having topped their group, a monumental achievement, Ranieri’s men ended with a brutal 5-0 butchering at the hands of Porto. It would be utter lunacy to keep the 65-year-old on the basis that he could topple the might of Club Brugges and FC Copenhagen.
That isn’t to mention the events of last weekend and their ignominious defeat at the hands of 10-man Millwall. Despite fielding a strong side against a League One outfit that had just received a red card, the Foxes were fed to the lions at The Den. Shaun Cummings’ late strike has served to heap further dirt on the Leicester City grave and it’s seemingly headed for six feet under.
Sacking Ranieri may seem the cowardly way out and maybe it is, but the bottom line is that it’s Leicester’s best chance of surviving in the Premier League. Their current form is so sickeningly poor that something new must be added to reinvigorate a squad wasting bundles of talent every week. The ex-Chelsea boss may have pulled off a miracle last season, but he’ll need another instance of divine intervention to save Leicester this season. Lightning, as they say, doesn’t strike twice.
Kobe Tong, YJA Senior Correspondent