RE: “Premier League champions Leicester sack manager Ranieri” (The New Times, February 24)
I am reminded of that Swahili proverb: “Fadhila ya punda ni mateke!” What ingratitude!
Without Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City would not be the reigning fairytale English Premier League champions, but rather just another lower-end club struggling for survival at the bottom of the English premier league, where he found them (or even already firmly ensconced in the lower end of the second-tier Championship where they were destined to be pre-Ranieri).
It seems, in fact, that that is the exact view of the Club’s fans, 72% of whom supported their manager before his shock sacking while only minorities of the same fans support the Club chairman and their quad (47% and 44% respectively).
Thus, it will seem to the fans - with reason - that while some shakeup was indeed required, there is a serious mistake as to who should have been shown the door.
Given the expected anti-climax of winning the EPL against the impossible odds of 5000/1, the failure of the club to invest in new players to provide their manager and fans the necessary strength in depth at least to try to defend their title, and the greater motivation of other clubs to beat the reigning champion, the precipitous drop in both form and performance was always predictable.
It also isn’t the first time that a reigning champion has looked like it was in relegation trouble. Just the previous season, the reigning champion, Chelsea, still managed by their season-winning manager, Jose Mourinho, looked like a sure bet for the drop after the manager seemed to have lost both his mojo and his control over the dressing-room.
He was sacked, and Guus Hiddink, recruited by owner Roman Abramovich as a stop-gap replacement to stem the seemingly inexorable slide into relegation indeed managed to turn things around, and the team (largely made up of the same stars as those under Mourinho) is now the runaway leader of the Premiership with a cushion of 10 points between itself and the next team.
But, Chelsea’s problems last season and those of Leicestor today are completely different. Mourinho had lost the confidence of his senior players - whose star-power was not in doubt.
Ranieri’s Leicester won despite the fact most of the team were no more than journeymen retreads, often finding their a second career from more fancied teams who considered such players superfluous for their more ambitious needs.
That Leicester City management do not realise that the reason for their poor form cannot be laid at Ranieri’s feet but their own failure, and that firing him may in fact only worsen the situation and guarantee their relegation, returns us to that methali ya kiswahili tulioanzana: Ni ukweli kabisa, fadhila ya punda ni mate ke!