Football is ugly. There are no friends in the minds of owners as they fight for their goals, whether that goal is Champions League success, or top flight survival. Football is less what you’ve done for me, and more what you’ve done for me lately. Claudio Ranieri can lead his team to the unthinkable and win the Premier League against 5,000/1 odds, surely a number you’re sick of hearing, and still have no job security for the ensuing season. In fact, he didn’t.
The football world was outraged at the dismissal of the Italian’s position as manager of Leicester City, calling the players “snakes” for expressing to the board their distrust in Ranieri’s ability to lead the team to safety. Setting aside these sentiments for a moment and solely looking at the facts you find the undeniable: Leicester City is currently in 17th place in the Premier League, one point outside of the drop-zone; they are still yet to register a victory in 2017; and they were booted from the F.A. Cup by Milwall, who are currently seventh in the third tier of English football. Had Sunderland or Crystal Palace sacked their managers after this string of events, no one would have second-guessed the owner’s decisions. But people with short memories forget that it was with this ruthlessness that Leicester won the league.
Prior to Ranieri, Nigel Pearson led Leicester through an unprecedented series of wins, resulting in saving the team from relegation. And yet, much to the dismay of Leicester fans, Pearson was dismissed as manager of the club. This sudden and inexplicable shifting of power from Pearson to Ranieri left a bad taste in the mouths of Leicester fans everyone. The rest is history.
Last season we were enchanted by this fairytale story of a group of rejects taking the Premier League by storm and challenging the financial powerhouses of England’s top six; and though this very well may be one of the greatest sports stories of all time, it simply doesn’t just happen. Leicester City’s 2015/2016 season was an unprecedented one— one that may not recur in our lifetime— and however improbably this accomplishment was, football is still football. We cannot excuse present failures with past successes (something Arsenal has done with Arsene Wenger, and the probably the reason why they haven’t lifted the Premier League trophy since 2004). While some call this a hangover from last season, I call it this: Claudio Ranieri has gone back to underachieving Claudio Ranieri; Jamie Vardy has gone back to non-league football Jamie Vardy; and Leicester City have gone back to being . . . Leicester City.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : David Sanchez