Claudio Ranieri's sacking means winning the title with a small club is a suicide note

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 24 February 2017, 09:59

Andy Dillon (@andydillon70) has his say on Leicester City's decision to sack Claudio Ranieri just nine months after winning the Premier League title...

CLAUDIO RANIERI’S shameful sacking has just made life for the top clubs in England a hell of a lot more comfortable.

The men at the top at Manchester United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal can all sleep a lot more soundly with the miracle-working Italian now a pile of ashes.

For the swift and ruthless swing of the axe by Leicester’s gutless owners have pretty much confirmed the end of the football fairytale, in the Premier League at least.

Lift the title in May, sacked in February.

Which manager among the smaller clubs in our top division is going to want to win the league now?

Upset the odds, in this case 5,000/1, and you’re signing your own death warrant a few months down the line.

Fancy that Slaven Bilic? Claude Puel? Ronald Koeman? No thank you very much.

It is painfully clear that Ranieri is paying the price of his own success. He second-guessed all the tactics of his rivals in England last season and made them all look pretty humble by sweeping to glory on a wave of indefatigable spirit and honest toil.

But whereas he could anticipate the actions of clubs like Tottenham, United, City and Arsenal, he did not foresee the reaction from his players.

Average Joes who massively over-reached themselves to create an immortal story with movie rights, book deals and global fame.

But sadly, while it was not a problem their success going to their wallets, it did go to their heads.

When reality bit this season, it bit hard - right into the egos that had ballooned along with the bank balances in the dressing room.

So suddenly it all became the manager’s fault. The players moaned and as happens all too often these days the owners listened and then acted in cold-blooded murder.

If it was the players who won Leicester the league last season, then by rights it is them who have taken the club to the brink of relegation, irrespective of whether Ranieri tinkered with his tactics or his formations.

Having seen Leicester capitulate against Manchester United just a few weeks ago it was clear the issue did not lie in squad rotation or 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. It was in the heart.

As soon as Henrikh Mikhitaryan put the visitors ahead it was game over. The 11 City players on the pitch let their heads drop and gave up.

Last season they scored first so often that the nerve wasn’t put to the test.

Maybe Ranieri’s biggest mistake was assuming his players had much more character than they did.

Whatever the reasons, the ramifications are far more worrying for the future of our game.

Clubs like West Ham who have ideas of grandeur with a new 60,000 stadium, Southampton with a brilliant set up under Claude Puel and perennial sleeping giants Everton will be harbouring fanciful notions of one day winning big.

Why not? If Leicester can do it so can they.

But today the managers of those clubs will be thinking that to do the unthinkable and topple the establishment in English soccer is like booking a place at Dignitas.

The big clubs do sack managers after success. Chelsea did it to Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo.

More recently, Manchester United knifed Louis van Gaal just days after winning the FA Cup.

The difference is that clubs like those demand ultimate success from the day you walk in the door. Prior to 2016 Leicester would be chuffed with a top ten finish and a cup run.

The other big difference is that the players at those big clubs understand it is THEIR job to bring in trophies year after year after year.

At Leicester they reached for the stars and were seduced, convinced they were out of this world when really they are an average bunch who needed to realise holding onto a dream is the most difficult thing.

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Steve Ball
(Colchester United)
23rd February
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