Like the majority of Leicester City fans, and great number of external fans of football, I’m still coming to terms with the departure of Claudio Ranieri from the helm of a club that is still reeling from the epicness of its previous season.
If you’ve ever been inclined to read anything I blog post or tweet, I actually am fairly positive, not overly critical, and try my best to look at he club, the management, the players, and events around the club in as balanced manner as I can. Sure I can be biased. Perhaps I can occasionally draw the wrong conclusions at times, but I’m just a fan. I don’t purport to have any inside knowledge, and I don’t gossip, or unfairly lambast or unduly praise where it’s not warranted.
This post has no comedy photos, no attempted witty sub headers.
I’ve tried to reflect on the last few weeks as it has slowly developed and come to its heart-breaking conclusion.
As I read the following epitaph from Ranieri himself, an overwhelming feeling of sadness and disappointment came over me.
I know that Ranieri has made errors of judgement, at times poor tactical decisions, and certainly some odd substitutions in some games, but I am trying to understand what he had himself to deal with to try to make the team a success once more, and it’s certainly not straightforward.
Like last year a number of factors have come together to produce the negative yin to what was our positive yang.
We can all agree that the trip to the States in the summer was probably a fairly lucrative offer that our owners couldn’t turn down.
I’m doubtful that Ranieri was happy for our players to clock up the air miles, train inconsistently, and suffer at the hands of teams with colossal reserve teams, never mind the first teams they have at their disposal. You put on top of that no real chance to experiment with any positivity without being punished.
Whilst the tour can’t be blamed for our fortunes this season it was the wrong foot to start on. Fitness levels were clearly well behind last year when we went into our first 5 or 6 fixtures.
Players who had the endless energy and verve last season, were lethargic and mentally looked as though they weren’t hungry anymore.
Journalists and some fans have blamed the bumper contracts for some, and the few overlooked may have created a split in the camp. New players were brought in and our spend was that of which we’ve never seen at our club. I even caught myself discussing numbers with work colleagues like it nothing. Pure FM daydream stuff.
I figured that bringing in Slimani would keep Mahrez, and between the pair of them a slick understanding could flourish, one boosting the other, and the rest of the team slowly getting fitter and eventually coming around and the momentum built on a new desire and yearning, inclusive of a Champions League experience, would bring the team together and we’d settle, and for me, a 10th place might be feasible given the workload of serious fixtures.
As I write this, I feel as though I’m writing a season review. A depressing season review. The season is not over. There are 13 games to try to maintain our status!
However, all my optimism that at some point we’d pull it together, shake of the cobwebs or shackles of expectations, were slowly ground into the dirt.
From my observations some players were dragging their heels, playing with the handbrake on, and not shifting out of 2nd gear. I assumed, that surely, it’s some tactic that Ranners was trying to wrongly impose on the players. It’s been suggested in some articles that the players wanted to play balls to the wall attacking football, like last year, with quick and hard pressing, but Ranieri quashed this.
I don’t work at the club, and I certainly am not privy to the training and tactics that were requested of the players, yet when I’ve seen the lacklustre displays from individuals I wonder whether the humps they were carrying were slowly them down to the point that they couldn’t achieve the hard pressing that they wanted to.
It was obvious to anyone watching that they were either uncomfortable with what they were being asked to do, or were being petulant.
The question I’d ask is if they were uncomfortable with the tactics why didn’t the captain try to speak to Ranieri to try and find a middle ground or encourage the team to do what they were asked 100% in the matches instead of sluggishly pottering around the pitch, and not concentrating?
I recall Ranieri saying that the players wanted him to return to the 4-4-2 formation as they thought they could play better and get results. Guess what, when Ranieri relented, they failed to show up.
How does that make me feel? When I hear the rumours of backbiting, backstabbing, and mutiny from players and some backroom staff?
Well Shakey came out today and said that this never happened. Pure ‘speculationship’. Everyone was behind the manager all the way along. Really? Shakey whilst I appreciate that its important PR to maintain the guise that there no foxes in the chicken shed, as who in the hell would want to come and manage a team where the players have a serious sway with decisions, and like to exercise that notion as and when they feel.
Like I’ve said at the beginning of the post I’ve yet to be serious critical of things around the club, merely made observations, but this kind of structure will never work.
Our owners have been gangpressed into making a decision on a manager who won us the league. Who won us the league by 10 points. You can say that this was based on Pearson’s foundations, or that all he did was maintain positivity, and the players did the work, but whatever your angle on how it was done, it was done under his management. He enabled it! So what could they do outside of a transfer window, where the players clearly and evidently were calling a coup to the board for the manager to go? They can’t ask these players to sit the reserves and find a new club come the summer could they? Ulloa would have company. The easiest way was to cull the manager they didn’t listen to, or refused to believe in anymore, as they knew or know better.
Now the owners are taking grief from every pundit, journalist, football fan up and down the country and beyond, because they had no choice to pull the trigger.
There’s every chance now he’s gone that the players will actually find the next gear, and put more effort into their play and actually put some efforts to winning matches. There’s every chance too that they’ll have egg on their faces, ostracise the fans, and lose whatever modicum of respect leftover from this farce, and be shipped off into the twilight with their Premiership winners medals glinting in the mirrors of their BMWs, with their paychecks stuffed into the gloveboxes.
I’ve said in a tweet, the players should sell those motors, give the proceeds to charity, and apologise for the lacklustre and embarrassing season we’ve had so far, and push on.
But that of course would be pessimistic. I want the club to do well. I want the owners to choose the right manager to follow Ranieri, and hopefully build on his foundations, and I want the players to invest their efforts in playing, in winning, and pay back the fans that have invested their support, their money, and their hopes in them.
I hope that what I have wrote isn’t too negative, or critical, but there’s a need to address what has become a stain on our reputation as a club, and tarnished what was and still is one of the greatest sporting achievements that has ever been.
I wish Claudio all the best in the future, he will be a legend in my eyes, and deserves better than this. I hope that the club can recover, and prove to the loyal support that we can compete, and can succeed with everyone pulling together in the right direction, with the right attitude and goals.
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