Claudio Ranieri: One Time Sentiment Should Have Counted

                           “Sadly football is a business with a short memory”-  Luigi Riccardi

Claudio Ranieri, the 65- year old, Italian manager who led lowly Leicester City Football Club to an unprecedented English Premiership title win last season was given the boot last Thursday. The Foxes have been a shadow of the team they were last season, no doubt. But very few suspected that their hero, who surpassed all expectations and made history with a team of average players could get the axe so soon. Just nine months later…just 292 days after lifting the coveted trophy, memories were trashed to the bin, and a benefactor was fired in a most unceremonious manner. If that isn’t the height of disloyalty and betrayal then I don’t know what is.

The controversial sacking of the former Chelsea and Napoli coach has generated plenty of debate in the football world. While some believe football related matters is strictly business and should be handled as such, others are absolutely gutted by what they regard as an unfair treatment of a man who put Leicester City on the map of special recognition. I belong to the latter school of thought.

What the management of Leicester have done is not only shameful, but a clear example of how fickle-minded man is. While a manager/club management relationship remains first and foremost an employee/employer one, there’s a reason we are human and have emotions. It’s to ensure we are sufficiently different from robots or machines which have no emotions and operate strictly on logic or at best artificial intelligence. We are before any other thing, human; and while there’s always talk of using the head rather than the heart in tackling a number of issues, it is impossible to divorce any human from emotions and yes, sentiments.

I believe a little sentiment should have come to play in considering what to do about Leicester City’s poor run of form in their second season under Ranieri. Apart from the fact that it was always going to be difficult to live up to their unbelievable performance and eventual feat of the 2015/16 Premier League season, the management of the club seem to have forgotten so quickly that what they achieved less than a year ago was far above their (and anyone else’s) expectations.

Here was a team that had gained promotion to the Premier League after ten years of being off top flight football. They escaped relegation by a hair’s breath the season before their fairy tale title win and automatic Champions League qualification. That phenomenal achievement would not have been possible without the tactical acumen of Claudio Ranieri.

It’s understandable that the management of Leicester would loathe to go back to the days of being minnows of the beautiful game once again. It’s understandable that concern must have heightened over their rapid downward spiral on the league table owing to their desperately pathetic run of form since the beginning of this season. What is not understandable is that Leicester City owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha did not find it the least bit callous to unceremoniously fire a man who brought his club to prominence. For those who compare the sacking of Jose Mourinho by Chelsea to Ranieris, let me just point out that the two situations aren’t exactly similar.

Chelsea have been a top club and regular Champions League contender for a while now. Same cannot be said of Leicester. Chelsea is a club that expects to win a trophy or more every season. They have world class players who can compete against any other elite football team in the world. The case is different for Leicester. Ranieri turned a bunch of average, “nameless” players into big boys over the course of one season. But for that title triumph, they probably wouldn’t have been able to afford Musa and Slimani. The owner would not also have dreamed of making elaborate plans to expand the capacity of the stadium. Ranieri was central to all of that, whilst not overlooking the effort of each and every member of the team, and to have him treated this way is really sad.

But I am not too surprised. What has played out by way of Leicester City’s treatment of Ranieri is not peculiar to them alone. It’s more prevalent than we think. How many times have we forgotten how well a person treated us in the past, only to judge them for one singular gaffe? In our individual lives, how many times have we closed our eyes to all the good attributes a person possesses, preferring rather to assess them on the basis of the minutest of all flaws?

I guess it’s the way humans are wired. Do all the good in the world and you are praised only for a minuscule moment, but falter just once because you are simply human, and the same people who in the deepest recesses of their hearts know that people don’t really come better than you are the ones who would be quickest to nail you to the cross. All your good deeds forgotten. And your flaws magnified under the high power objective lens of a microscope.

Leicester City’s emphatic 3-1 win over Liverpool on Monday night lend some sort of credence to rumours of the player’s complicity in the ouster of their former manager. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see if they can build on that significant victory, and more importantly survive relegation this season. Failure to do so may just mean they become the laughing stock of many who feel bruised on Ranieri’s behalf.

I don’t know about you but I certainly won’t feel sorry for them if this happens.


6 Replies to “Claudio Ranieri: One Time Sentiment Should Have Counted”

  1. The sympathy towards Ranieri’s axe is rather amusing and I can understand why. What Leicester achieved became a tool of motivation and inspiration even outside football.

    Football is a business as you’ve said but remember life in the Championship is lurking and that’s not where they’ll want to be. To me it seemed Ranieri failed to motivate the players because even if they weren’t expected to retain the tile, they aren’t expected to be close to the relegation zone

    But then maybe that’s a reality check for them because they’ve naturally been relegation battlers in their recent history.

    The way Leicester was going under Ranieri, I think they were going back to the Championship. All that magical league win would be dashed in memory and Ranieri would perhaps not want manage in the second tier.

    I know the board didn’t want to sack Ranieri. If it were another manager they’ll have done that since but because of what the Italian achieved, they gave him enough time to make things right but he didn’t.

    It’s a tough one that will hurt but in business, harsh decisions need to be made for the good of getting desired results.

    Hopefully this decision pays off to keep them in the top flight.

    1. Hmmmm. Well, if it were another manager they probably wouldn’t have tasted what it’s like to be League champions in the first place. Well, we’ll see how things pan out for them at the end of the season. Thanks Kunle.

  2. “If you wan be number one, be the best, but that one no mean say number two no go test, and that one no mean say number three don dey rest…We gotta keep bringing tha fire”.
    Lyrics from a song titled Tha fire composed by Pherowshuz.

    What Ranieri did in Leicester will never be forgotten. We remember. But you see when you achieve a certain level of success (even in the most impossible situations), sustainability is expected and when it’s not provided, Unto the next one. That’s how the world works.We live in a world where there’s no little or no room for sentiments. Nature doesn’t do sentiments. This is evident in the mechanism of natural selection “Survival of the fittest”. While the average football fan looks at this with shallow and uncomplicated emotions, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha looks at it with reason, the kind of reason a business owner applies to ensure his enterprise stays afloat.

    1. I guess it explains why the world is the way is right now. I totally get your point, I just feel he should have been allowed the dignity of seeing off the season. Thanks Victor.

  3. Welldone Lolo. I feel for Ranieri too, probably he should have resigned before being booted out. Nevertheless what made it more tragic and treacherous was that he was sacked a week after the same people gave him a vote of confidence. Why the vote of confidence when they knew they were going to sack him shortly after? Betrayal with a kiss?

    Thankfully, the historical achievement of Ranieri in Leicester City and football for the 2016/17 can never be erased by anyone. It will be legendary forever.

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