By Harry Dunning
Winning the Premier League and guiding his team to within a home win of the Champions League quarter-finals was not enough. Claudio Ranieri’s reign as Leicester boss is over.
The day after their 2-1 defeat against Sevilla in Spain, with the second leg to come, Leicester City announced Ranieri’s departure.
Vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha described it as: “the most difficult decision since King Power took ownership of Leicester”.
It came after a poor run of results in the league and an embarrassing FA Cup fifth-round exit at the hands of League One Millwall.
Sympathy for Ranieri
The club has already come in for major criticism on social media. Foxes legend Gary Lineker took to Twitter to express his dismay.
Claudio Ranieri? Sacked? Really? Dilly Ding Dilly Game’s Gone.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 23, 2017
He added: “After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad.”
The big questions are what now and who next for Leicester?
Sitting 16th in the table, just a point above the relegation zone, many are perplexed by the timing of Ranieri’s enforced exit.
Leicester’s spirited fightback in Sevilla, from 2-0 down to grab a precious away goal, was their best performance in recent weeks.
Players behind Ranieri?
Midfielder Danny Drinkwater played probably his best game all season, while Jamie Vardy was back on the scoresheet.
It didn’t look like a team that had lost faith in its manager.
However, there were murmurings that the players were disappointed tactically with the Italian after the game.
Most fans believe, though, that Ranieri had earned the right to try and turn the Foxes’ season around.
Many, including Lineker, initially doubted he was the right man to replace Nigel Pearson almost two years ago.
But the board’s choice was vindicated as Ranieri guided Leicester to a shock title triumph.
Will their latest decision also prove to be right if the new manager keeps them up?
Mancini to replace Ranieri?
Former Bilbao and Marseille boss Marcelo Bielsa has been touted around a few clubs in recent weeks.
The experienced Argentine is potentially an astute replacement, but has a mercurial reputation.
Roberto Mancini (pictured) had a brief playing spell for the Foxes and is the bookies favourite for the job.
But the Italian, who took Manchester City to the title, is not used to relegation dogfights.
Many will ask how owners who lifted the Premier League trophy last April can show so little faith in their manager.
It’s a stark reminder that football is now a business, and if the business is failing, regardless of previous success, you could be on your way out.
Loyalty in the modern game is fast disappearing, and Ranieri is gone. However, what he did at Leicester will never be forgotten.