Claudio Ranieri is the latest manager to be out of a job, but his sacking has hit the football community harder than most. Just ten months after leading Leicester to their first ever Premier League title, Ranieri seemingly fell victim to player power. Why is this phenomenon increasingly common? Why should the players have the final say?
In short, firing the manager of a club is the easiest solution. Players cannot be punished on a permanent basis. They can be benched or dropped for periods of time, or even sold, but they cannot be sacked. A manager, especially in ‘modern football’ times, knows that as soon as his players do not respond to him, he will lose his job.
Because of this, blame is easy to misplace and players know their power. This power is manipulative. The Telegraph reported that some Leicester players accepted “that relegation was inevitable unless Ranieri left the club”.
What Leicester’s board and players have seemed to forget, however, is that relegation was always a fairly large possibility before Ranieri joined the club in 2015. Their title-winning season was the anomaly in their history, and it was thanks to Ranieri and the spirit he injected into the players. So why now, when Leicester are back in their usual place, is Ranieri the only one blamed, and the players are excused?
This is a theme that is prevalent in many stories of managerial turnover. It is a team effort when things are going well, and a managerial problem when things take a downturn. This attitude is completely unjust.
What’s worse in this situation is that Leicester are still in the Champions League with a fighting chance. Not only does this confuse the timing of Ranieri’s dismissal but it should also direct more blame at the players.
This Leicester team felt able to fight for their progression in the biggest tournament in Europe, but could not do the same in the Premier League. Whilst it matters that a manager can spur on his team, some of that has to come from the players, too.
Where has captain Wes Morgan’s leadership gone? Jamie Vardy was breaking Premier League scoring records last season but has so far only managed six goals in all competitions. How could Ranieri possibly control such factors? The players clearly had selective ambitions and there is only so much a manager can do in a situation like that.
Sky Sports reported that the executive board held a meeting with senior players regarding the decision to let Ranieri go. The players gave their support. With this logic, the team should now resemble their title-winning team without him. This will not happen.
No manager is going to come to Leicester and lead them to the same success that Claudio Ranieri did. There are very few (if any) people within the football community that think this was a good decision. Loyalty should have lay with the manager who made history, at least to allow him a dignified exit from the club in the summer. Leicester City have let themselves down.