Tag Archives: claudio ranieri

Leicester part company with Ranieri.

Nine months after lifting the Premier League trophy in what was a fairytale season, a season that would inspire underdogs across all sports at all levels, Leicester have sacked manager Claudio Ranieri.

“This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City,” a statement read. “But we are duty-bound to put the Club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be.”

Something has without a doubt changed since their triumphant season. But what? Unprecedented pressure to recapture the magic like the previous season? Players lost their hunger? The absence of N’Golo Kanté to Chelsea? Who knows. But the only person who felt the bullet was ultimately Ranieri.

He was sacked at an interesting time. It was only six weeks since Ranieri was named as Fifa’s coach of the year. But Leicester’s decline which currently sees them only one place above the relegation zone. It is interesting to note that in his last game, the 2-1 loss to Porto in the Champions League, Foxes fans were chanting the Italian’s name at the full time whistle. It is incredibly sad that Leicester owners did not afford Ranieri the time to fight for the club’s safety.

Football is a results business, yes. But it is also a ruthless business at times. Modern football can be extremely ruthless and owners and chairmen are only interested in what the manager is doing now, regardless of his accomplishments in the past. I believe that we will never, ever see another manager in top flight football with the longevity of the likes of Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

The unlikely Kings of England

“I don’t think it’s a miracle,” said Real Madrid manager and France footballing legend Zinedine Zidane. “They had a fantastic season”. Indeed, Zizou may be on his own, because when a club like Leicester, who were famously 5,000/1 to win the Premier League, actually go ahead and do just that, many would believe that indeed a miracle of football has occurred.

Miracle is a word being used a lot. Claudio Ranieri used it himself to describe the Foxes following their  “great escape” last season, when former boss Nigel Pearson led the side to win seven of their last nine matches to fight their way from the bottom of the table up to 14th place. A year later, would he – or indeed anyone – have expected this?

Of course Zidane is right. They did have a fantastic season. Claudio Ranieri has done fantastic. No, actually he had done phenomenally. In fact, I’m not sure if there’s a word yet invented to describe just how well he has done.

Nine months after Gary Lineker famously tweeted  ‘Claudio Ranieri? Really?’ following the Italian’s appointment, there are now calls for a statue of the 64-year-old boss at the King Power Stadium. He’ll probably get one too. Think about that.

But it was the drama in how they won that was enjoyable for the neutral. But I think that most football fans wanted to see Leicester City become Premier League champions. No disrespect to Tottenham, they are a marvellous club with an exciting, young squad, but would it have had the same effect had they had won the league this season? Not even remotely.

It’s interesting to note some of Leicester’s statistics. The game is becoming more and more obsessed with stats. Top flight managers have bought players solely because of their stats. Yet, interestingly, the percentages show that Ranieri’s team are in the bottom three for possession (only one club, West Brom, have a lower pass completion rate). Their spirit and determination was utterly admirable. Statistics aside, the only one that matters is the league table. Ranieri got that spot on.

It’s probably one of the biggest shocks in not only footballing history, but sporting history. And it simply goes shows that, yes, in sport: anything can happen.

Other clubs must look at Claudio Ranieri and Leicester and think, “hang on a second, if they can do that, then why can’t we?”. And it’s great. You don’t need Russian billionaires or a royal family from the Middle East throwing buckets of cash at a club to bring in huge names. Leicester City are the proof.

And good luck to the Foxes in the future. I can’t wait to see them in the Champions League next season. As for Gary Lineker’s underpants?  Not so much!

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

Burnley promoted while Leicester within touching distance of history

There were incredible scenes at Turf Moor this evening following Burnley’s 1-0 victory over QPR. Sean Dyche’s men came into the fixture with the knowledge that a victory would guarantee them a top two finish in the Championship.

Sam Vokes’ 61st minute goal was enough for the Clarets, which prompted jubilant scenes and an old school pitch invasion following the referees whistle. Images of Joey Barton being mobbed like a Beatle circa 1964, was a far cry from the comments from Burnley fans who were unsure, to say the least, of the Liverpudlian’s inclusion in the squad months ago. It just goes to show.

Meanwhile eyes will be firmly fixed on events at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea face Tottenham. Anything other than a victory against the Blues for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, and Leicester will be crowned Premier League champions – something they were famously 5000/1 to do at the start of the season.

Personally, I hope to see Leicester do it. I think everyone does. Except Spurs fans that is. Will history be made at the Bridge tonight? We’ll find out tonight.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

The story of Winston Bogarde and THAT infamous Chelsea contract.

Have you ever seen the movie Lost In Translation? There certainly must have been some Lost In Translation-moment when former-Ajax, Barcelona and AC Milan player Winston Bogarde was undergoing his medical in order to join Chelsea in 2000. When the injury-prone defender insisted his knee-injury was ‘recovering’ rather than ‘recurring’, all parties happily agreed to a four-year contract worth a whopping £2 million per season. It would be a contract (the pre-Abramovich) Chelsea would deeply regret signing.

When coach Gianluca Vialli (who purchased Bogarde) was replaced by Claudio Ranieri just weeks after the Dutch international”s move, it was Ranieri that wanted him to leave the club deeming him surplus to requirements – wages were far too high for a player no stanger to injuries. Bogarde knew he would not get a contract anywhere near as lucrative as what he got at Chelsea, so he decided to stay and honour his contract – regardless of what the manager, staff or fans thought.

During his time in London, the club repeatedly tried to offload Bogarde because of his enormous wages. When there were no takers, Chelsea demoted him to the reserve teams to encourage Bogarde to leave. He had no intention to do anything of the sort.

“Why should I throw millions away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract. Both sides agreed wholeheartedly”, he would later say. Furthermore, when Chelsea won a domestic trophy at this time, it triggered a bonus payment in agreement with his contract, despite Bogarde not featuring at all for Chelsea.

The English press ridiculed him for his alleged selfishness. Bogarde merely responded, ‘This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so much I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care”.

When May 14th 2004 arrived, his contract was up. He shook hands with some employees at Chelsea and a couple of players and left for the airport. He was now aged 34 and never played professional football again. He had no Premier League appearances for Chelsea, pretty much rotted at the reserves and got paid an enormous amount for it. Wasn’t it Dire Straits who sang “Money For Nothing“? I’ll bet it’s the soundtrack to Bogarde’s life.