Would it be unfair to sack Ranieri?
Frank Monkhouse | 23 February 2017
Monday’s topic for discussion is the fall of last season’s champions
What a difference a year makes in football. Chelsea were on-course for a 10th-place finish last season, but are now runaway leaders of the Premier League. Leicester were battling to a historic league win, but would now bite your hand off for 10th.
The Foxes were battered 3-0 by a rampant Manchester United on Sunday, as Jose Mourinho’s men target a top-four finish and a return to Champions League football. But, as good as Man Utd were, Leicester are looking terrible.
Foxes lacking firepower
Claudio Ranieri’s side managed just one shot on target at home vs The Red Devils, and the stats-sheet shows they had only 32 per cent of the overall possession. That was no off-day either as Leicester have now lost each of their last four top-flight starts, and have failed to score a single goal during that miserable run. In fact, Leicester haven’t scored a league goal in 2017 and are now just a point above the relegation zone.
Could Leicester go from the champions to the Championship in one season? Fans certainly hope not and will be eager to see their heroes snap out of this hangover before it is too late. It’s a tight-run race down at the wrong end of the table however, and supporters will take heart from what has been achieved at West Ham, who went from relegation contenders to a spot in the top-half fairly quickly. The Foxes last win did come over The Hammers too, but that was back on New Year’s Eve.
Is Ranieri the bad guy?
So, just who is to blame? Confidence is key to winning football matches and Leicester do still have a number of last season’s title winners plying their trade at the King Power. Have they become a bad group overnight? That’s highly unlikely.
Many of the red top newspapers are now beginning to point the finger of blame towards manager Claudio Ranieri. Yes, the same bold Italian who was hailed a miracle worker with healing hands only a matter of months ago.
He is now being quoted as one of the most likely managers to lose his job, a market headed by Aitor Karanka. But, surely, it would take a cold-hearted board member to pull the plug on Ranieri’s time at Leicester? He still has them in the Champions League after all. Yes – Leicester City are in the knockout stages of Europe’s premier competition. They have a very winnable tie over two legs against Spanish side Sevilla later this month too.
As crazy as it may sound that Leicester City could be in the latter stages of the Champions League, it is even more far-fetched that Claudio’s bosses at the King Power are preparing to pull the rug from under his feet. Certainly not midway through the season. Even if they were to go out of Europe next month, they’re still very capable of keeping their place in the division. And who would take his job? Zola probably, but that’s another matter. Who could come in and give a better effort? Not many.
Don’t believe everything you read
At present, it looks little more than the media scavenging for a story. Of course Ranieri won’t be the next manager to be sacked. But let’s get it right, football is a results driven business, and his side’s results have been poor of late. Everyone, from the manager to the players and fans, must pull together to retain their place in the league. Coral traders have them at 5/2 to take the plunge.