Should Leicester City Stick or Twist with Claudio Ranieri?by Simon Lillicrap / 13 February 2017, 15:53Tweet
With Leicester City falling to another defeat over the weekend, leaving the defending champions one point above the drop zone, we analyse whether they should stick behind their Italian manager, or twist to avoid the drop.
Claudio Ranieri won Leicester the Premier League last season. That’s right. Leicester. Champions of England. The man should have the job for life. Leicester are one point above the relegation zone and if Ranieri had led them to survival in a similar position last season then no one would bat an eyelid about their performance this season.
The fact is that Leicester’s season last year was a complete anomaly. One we may never see in the Premier League again. They had a small squad with few players of quality and took on the big spending teams and won.
This raised Leicester’s expectations to an unrealistic level but let’s not forget that they are still out of the relegation zone. In the cup competitions, they are doing well. They take on Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday before travelling to Millwall in the last 16 of the FA Cup.
They could end the season with silverware and in the latter stages of Europe’s top club competition, yet some people are calling for the manager to be sacked, it’s madness. Leicester fans never dreamed they would win the Premier League, but they have. They probably thought they would never see their team in Europe, but they are.
They may yet get a trip to Wembley in the FA Cup and all this whilst staying up in the Premier League. Claudio Ranieri should not be under any pressure this season. If they get relegated, then there may be reason to reassess in the summer but I don’t think any fan would swap a Premier League title and Champions League adventure for staying in the Premier League.
The amount of money that the Premier League is worth these days means that Leicester must prioritise it and change their manager now. The simple fact is that results have not been good enough this season and they are in danger of dropping down to the Championship, which is unbelievably difficult to get out of as Aston Villa are finding out.
Last season was a dream, but Leicester fans will not want those memories to be soured by becoming the first champions to be relegated since Manchester City in 1937/38. Ranieri has failed to strengthen his side in January and his side have lost their last five Premier League games and failed to score in their last six.
Ranieri’s loyalty to his players is going to cost him as Wes Morgan and Robert Huth, who were so solid last year, have become the ageing defenders that they are. Keeper Kasper Schmeical is making errors on a weekly basis, while Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have become disinterested and are probably regretting not leaving the club. The loss of Kante is just one of the differences between this season and last however, he is not the only reason that Leicester have fallen. They are already the worst defending champions ever.
The attitude of the side has changed and after last season’s heroics they seem less willing to run and put in the high tempo that saw them create history last year. Ranieri cannot turn this around and Leicester are becoming stale under his leadership.
They simply can’t score at the minute and because of this they will be knocked out of both the Champions League and the FA Cup in the coming weeks. That will leave them in one thing, a relegation scrap. Leicester should change now to avoid the ultimate embarrassment.