Less than a year after achieving the impossible and guiding #Leicester City to the #Premier League title, Claudio Ranieri starts Friday morning without a job. He was sacked as manager of the Foxes on Thursday evening.
The popular Italian was told to clear his desk by the Thai owners, less than 24 hours after a valiant display in the UEFA Champions League against Sevilla. Although beaten 2-1 on the night, Jamie Vardy's away goal means the club still have a reasonable chance of reaching the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition. The owners said in a statement: "this has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester."
It is the second season in a row where the reigning Premier League title-winning manager has lost their job in the following season. After winning the title in 2014/2015 with Chelsea, Jose Mourinho was dismissed less than seven months later after claiming his work had been "betrayed" following a league loss to Ranieri's Leicester. Winning the league seems to have become a poisoned chalice for managers.
Leicester's results this season have fallen way short of expectations. The club has yet to score a goal in the league in 2017 and they've lost five of their last six games. This included a weekend FA Cup exit to League One side Millwall and it has put increased strain on Ranieri's job security. They currently sit 17th in the Premier League, just one point and one place above the relegation zone and without a win away from home all season.
Two weeks ago, Ranieri was given the dreaded vote of confidence following a 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United. It was hoped that there would be a revival in performances on-the-field. However, it simply didn't materialise and the owners have decided the club's precarious league position requires a change of face in the dugout. Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare will take charge of Monday night's live televised game against Liverpool FC and the club will make no further comment until a new manager is appointed.
The 5000/1 outsiders
Ranieri was appointed Leicester manager in summer 2015, replacing the successful but controversial Nigel Pearson. His appointment was immediately questioned by many members of the media. His previous job with the Greece national team had ended disastrously after a shock home defeat to the Faroe Islands. However, he produced the remarkable last season.
Starting at 5000/1 outsiders for the title and favourites with many for relegation, he managed to galvanise his players to new-found levels of performance and achievement. Whilst some of the league's elite struggled to string consistent results together, the Foxes flourished. In May 2016, they completed one of the greatest moments in sporting history by being crowned the most unlikely Premier League champions in the league's 25-year history.
Ranieri was voted FIFA Coach of the Year in January and a month earlier, he picked up the same honour at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. Now, the former Chelsea, Valencia and Juventus boss is out of work in a decision which has baffled many, especially with the timing of the news.
This season has been a bigger struggle than what anyone could have anticipated. The Leicester players haven't reached their high levels from last campaign and there has been more sign of dressing room unrest in recent weeks. Now to ensure this amazing journey doesn't have a nasty epilogue, Leicester will have to preserve their Premier League status without the man who guided them to kings of English football last season.
After 19 months in charge, Ranieri has departed but his reign as Leicester manager will always be seen as one of the Premier League's most memorable management spells.