Is Claudio Ranieri’s legacy at Leicester City tarnished less than 1 season after winning the Premier League?
Whatever happens, whilst we as fans will always remember him as the manager who won us the Premier League title, the media both social and regular will remember him as the manger who almost got us relegated within one season of that famous title win. I hate to say I told you so…. But I told you so. At the end of the season I came out and said this season would be when Ranieri would earn his wages. Winning it was amazing, defending it would be a lot harder.
So what has happened?
The players have not been performing. We can all see that every week. Is that their fault? Of course, they have to take some of the blame naturally. When they walk over that white line they take responsibility for their performance, but they’re being asked to play in unfamiliar roles and formations which, according to rumours, have been changed less than two hours before kick off.
They have become football’s version of big business fat cats with their huge expensive salaries, flash cars and book and media deals? They have lost the ‘Band of Brothers’ ethos that was so strong last season. This was never going to be maintained as we had to bring in so called ‘star’ names to help us compete in The Champions League and this was bound to have an effect in the changing room. The free and cheap signings such as Fuchs, Huth, Drinkwater, Schmeichel et al were now going to be sat next to the likes of Musa and Slimani who, for a team such as Leicester, cost a small fortune. Free transfer Fuchs sat next to £30m transfer Slimani and the band of brothers ethos goes out the window.
But are these new signings that bad? Yes they have failed to gel into a team that, on the whole, had had a few seasons to gel. It does seem that we expect a lot of our new signings these days. A player can sign on Monday and be on the pitch on Saturday playing with 10 team mates he doesn’t know the style of, and lets be honest would need a few months to get to know properly and that’s not even taking into account the language barrier there is these days in our multi nation team.
But a team does not sign ‘most’ of their players on a whim. There will have been a lot of homework and background checks on our 2016/17 signings. Whilst Steve Walsh may have departed I believe most of our signings this season will have been implemented by him and the system he helped set up at City. I also believe that if we do stay up and hold onto our so called stars next season we could see the improvement we have been looking for, as by then having had a season to gel and gone through a relegation battle they will have bonded into a team better prepared for the battle that is the Premier League.
So where does the buck stop? Well unfortunately with the manager or as he likes to call himself Head Coach. It does in any job and its why they are paid the big bucks – to make the big decisions. Some people had said that he won the League with ostensibly Nigel Pearson’s team, and you can to a point see where they are coming from, Now I’m not saying had he stayed – and as much as I was a fan of his – that Pearson would have won the League, but there was a lot of his squad and his new signings when Ranieri took over. We had a lot of luck last season. The big six imploded in their own ways, we had relatively few suspensions, and injuries on the whole were few and far between. We didn’t have Europe to contend with and early exits out the domestic cups meant we had a clear run at the title. But who cares we won the damn thing.
This season though we have seen that the so called ‘first team’ have failed to turn up on most weekends. Our pre season ICC Cup exploits whist great to say we were included in it, was in hindsight not the best preparation for the new season and the Champions League, whist giving us great memories and new records has proved the ultimate distraction. Formation changes, squad changes, players played out of position, baffling substitutions when your best players on the day are taken off the pitch, substitutions NOT being made when you’re losing these are just some of the decisions by Ranieri that are making the fans ask questions of him. He changes virtually the whole squad for a FA Cup replay against Derby and we manage to actually win a game. So what does he do for the following game? A vital 6 pointer against fellow struggler’s Swansea City? Reverts back to the squad that got us into that position in the first place.
Rumours exist that Ranieri has lost the dressing room less than a year after happy videos of him and the team ‘pizza making’ after finally achieving the first clean sheet of the 2015/16 season. Seems impossible after all that we saw last season doesn’t it? But we all know that when this happens, there is only one winner, and the manager usually ends up leaving. Just over 12 months ago did this not happen at then Premier League Champions Chelsea as Mourinho was unceremoniously shown the door by Roman Abramovich?
Am I ashamed of my club? Never. Embarrassed? At the moment yes. I hate hearing the opposing fans singing ‘ Champions of England – you’re having a laugh’. But sometimes the truth hurts.
This article was written by @leicestertid – https://twitter.com/Leicestertid
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