Leicester City’s decision to sack title winning coach Claudio Ranieri has been widely condemned on social media, with many people criticising the Premier League club for their lack of gratitude.
The Italian coach has been fired by Leicester just nine months after leading them to a remarkable and unexpected Premier League triumph. The 5000-1 outsiders to win the league last season have struggled during the current campaign and sit one point and one place above the relegation zone.
Despite Leicester offering their “unwavering support” to the coach earlier this month, the players are understood to have been unhappy with Ranieri, with some of the long established members of the squad believed to be keen on the return of the Italian’s predecessor, Nigel Pearson.
Former England striker and current Match of the Day presenter, Gary Lineker, who began his career at Leicester and is a lifelong supporter, described the decision as “gut-wrenchingly sad.”
After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 23, 2017
Former Liverpool defender and current Sky TV pundit, Jamie Carragher, summed up the thoughts of many with this pithy tweet.
Absolute Joke. https://t.co/TdKVeR1nJN
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) February 23, 2017
His former England team-mate, Rio Ferdinand, who now works for BT Sport, was another who was stunned by the news of Ranieri’s sacking.
Just seen Ranieri news. Shocked after last night display! Wins the league & still not afforded the time to fight for safety. Unreal scenes!
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) February 23, 2017
Meanwhile, Lineker said that while the knee-jerk decision to sack Ranieri is “expected at big clubs”, the decision by Leicester to fire the Italian “takes away from the glory” for the Foxes.
“For a club like Leicester to win the league last season, the magnificence of the story, the likeability of the club under Ranieri – the ultimate gentleman – it kind of demeans the club,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“Leicester were hugely popular right around the world. To do something like this now loses a lot of that popularity.
“It’s a sign of modern football, what happened last season was truly extraordinary. The lack of gratitude from the owners of the club and who knows who else involved in such a decision beggars belief.
“That season will remain with us forever, it was truly special and a lot of that was down to the management.
“The same guy cannot be considered incapable of doing the job a few months months later after achieving what, for me, was the biggest miracle in sport.
“I suppose you can explain it in terms of a panic decision and for me a wrong decision.
“I shed a tear last night for Claudio, for football and for my club.”
Leicester’s vice chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said it was in the best interests of the club for the 65-year-old to be dismissed.
“This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City,” Srivaddhanaprabha said. “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.
“Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City. His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the club and develop its profile on a global scale. We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve.
“It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign. But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”