Nine months after leading the Foxes to the Premier League title – defying odds of 5,000-1 – Claudio Ranieri, 65, has been sacked as Leicester’s manager. Leicester now sit one point above the relegation zone with only 13 matches left.
Ranieri gave an empassionate tribute to Leceister City in a statement:
Yesterday my dream died.
After the euphoria of last season and being crowned Premier League champions, all I dreamt of was staying with Leicester City, the club I love, for always.
Sadly this was not to be. I wish to thank my wife Rosanna and all my family for their never-ending support during my time at Leicester.
My thanks go to Paolo and Andrea, who accompanied me on this wonderful journey. To Steve Kutner [Ranieri’s agent] and Franco Granello [his Italian agent] for bringing me the opportunity to become a champion.
Mostly I have to thank Leicester City Football Club. The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever.
Thank you to all the journalists and the media who came with us and enjoyed reporting on the greatest story in football.
My heartfelt thanks to everybody at the club, all the players, the staff, everybody who was there and was part of what we achieved. But mostly to the supporters. You took me into your hearts from day one and loved me. I love you too.
No-one can ever take away what we together have achieved, and I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will.
It was a time of wonderfulness and happiness that I will never forget. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to be a champion with all of you.
Ranieri, and those around him, were shocked that he was dismissed. Many pundits, and also fellow managers, have expressed their dismay at the event, with Jose Mourinho – manager of Manchester United – speaking out about it:
“I thought last season, when I was sacked as a champion, I thought it was a giant negative thing.
“Now I realise that it was peanuts compared with what happened to Claudio.”
Ranieri’s departure came less than a day after a 2-1 defeat at Spanish side Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie.
On Saturday, Leicester were knocked out of the FA Cup by League One Millwall by 1-0.
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, vice-chairman of Leceister City, said “long-term interests” have been put above “personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might me.” – A somewhat brutal message to Ranieri.
Speaking early on Friday, Craig Shakespeare – Leicester’s caretaker boss – denied a player revolt that led to Ranieri’s sacking, and said the following:
“There was a lot of frustration because of the results, but he had not lost the dressing room,”
“A lot of the talk of unrest has been speculation. I’ve not had one problem with the players.
“I always feel sorry when people lose their jobs. My relationship with Claudio has been fine all along.
“I spoke to him last night and he thanked me for my support throughout. It was not brief and we exchanged views. A lot of what we said will stay private.”
Shakespeare and Mike Stowell – the first-team coach – will take charge of the Foxes until a new manager is appointed. Pablo Benetti and Andrew Azzalin, two key members of Ranieri’s coaching staff, have also left the club.