Leicester City had a remarkable Premier League triumph during the 2015-16 campaign but even before kicking a ball this season, there has been an ominous change of mood in the club.
A press conference was held by Leicester Manager Claudio Ranieri at the club’s Belvoir Drive training ground two days before facing the FA Cup winners Manchester United in the community shield at Wembley. The manager complained about the attitude of the players during the pre season and he also talked about the 19 Azure blue sports cars gifted to the players for winning the title three months earlier by the owner of the club Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Ranieri said that it is more important to think about the matches and not cars. He was irritated at this gesture as it was distracting his players from the challenge ahead. His employers have been pulling back the players backward towards the prolonged celebrations of summer rather than focusing on the upcoming challenges.
Ranieri experienced the changed mindset of his players at Leicester’s Los Angeles training base last summer. His players were happy with the beautiful company of Santa Monica and they were also enjoying the photo shoots with actor Will Ferrell. But they could not do much on the pitch and they were defeated by Paris Saint-Germain with a score of 4-0.
Ranieri was looking for more than the maximum and he was not happy with their performance in Los Angeles. He said that the players lacked the same mentality and even though they were working hard but they were not working as a team which made all the differences.
Ranieri saw the danger signs for his team but he was unable to prevent the team’s fall from grace. His fear of complacency went unheeded. The players stumbled on their achievements and forgot to rediscover their magic.
Ranieri was sacked on Thursday after being told on 7th February that he had the unwavering support of the ownership. He was sacked in less than 24 hours after Jamie Vardy’s first goal of 2017 in a 2-1-first-leg away defeat against Sevilla gave Leicester genuine hope of progression to the Champions League quarterfinals. They may have the chance to get there but now they have to do it without Ranieri.
Leicester City is just one point above the Premier League relegation zone and their priority is to survive in the game. The owner of the club believes that the team has a better chance of surviving in the game with someone else as the in charge of the team. That could be either Roberto Mancini or Alan Pardew or may be even Nigel Pearson.
If no one is appointed as in charge of the team by Monday, assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and first team coach Mike Stowell will take the responsibility when Leicester host Liverpool at the King Power stadium.
The decision of sacking Ranieri might seem brutal but considering what he has achieved last season this seems to be the right decision. Not all fairytales have a happy ending and for Ranieri it ended in a hard way but the time in Los Angeles suggested that he was aware of what was coming his way.