Only nine months ago, the streets of Leicester had looked like a carnival, with fans rejoicing in a highly unprecedented victory. It was history of the highest magnitude, for Leicester, who had only a season ago been battling relegation and had managed to survive somehow, had not only won the Premier League against 1:5000 odds against them, but had managed to do so with a 10 point gap between their next rival. Leicester were living a dream, and somehow they just did not want it to end forever. And through all those times, Claudio Ranieri was seen smiling ear to ear.
Fast forward nine months, they find themselves a point above the relegation zone and facing an increasing probability of facing the drop. They have won just five premier league matches this season and could be the first reigning champions since 1938. If that wasn’t enough, they were knocked out by of the FA cup by the third tier opposition Millwall. Also, Ranieri’s sacking came only 24 hours after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Spanish opposition, Sevilla in the round of 16 of the Europe’s elite inter-club competition.
There were talks of a mutiny in the dressing room, but they were unfounded when both Craig Shakespeare, assistant manager and other stars cleared the air.
“There was a lot of frustration because of the results, but he had not lost the dressing room,” Shakespeare said. “A lot of the talk of unrest has been speculation. I’ve not had one problem with the players.I always feel sorry when people lose their jobs. My relationship with Claudio has been fine all along.I spoke to him last night and he thanked me for my support throughout. It was not brief and we exchanged views. A lot of what we said will stay private.”
Meanwhile, other stars, including Riyad Mahrez, Danny Simpson, Demarai Gray and Jamie Vardy took to social media to express their solidarity with Ranieri. Jose Mourinho too wore a training top with “CR” etched on it, CR being the initials of Claudio Ranieri in a bid to pay homage to him. Jurgen Klopp called it one of the most bizarre decisions of the time along with Brexit and Trump being elected the president of the United States of America.
The remarkable title escapades had won Ranieri the Best Men’s Coach, and top coach at BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, had released a statement stating that “the dream was over”. Though his next destination is yet unknown, the tinker man of football will surely be missed.