Leicester City sacked Claudio Ranieri nine months after the most unlikely title win in modern football history and just two weeks after promising he had the unwavering support of the board.
Just as Leicester’s title win united the footballing world behind them, this decision has served to turn people against the club.
Sacking Ranieri is a cowardly decision of which there can be no meaningful defence. Regardless of whatever cynical reason was the main motivator for the decision, this action will go down as one of the most damaging self-inflicted wounds in sporting history.
Many people have bandied about the statistic that now four of the last five Premier League winning managers were sacked shortly after their triumph. This statistic, however, ignores the context for each particular dismissal.
Mourinho was sacked after publically blaming the players repeatedly for Chelsea’s poor form. In contrast Ranieri has repeatedly defended his players in front of the press.
Mancini and Pellegrini, meanwhile, were both let go as Man City yearned to sign Guardiola. Comparing Ranieri’s exit to these examples is fruitless and it also ignores an important point.
Quite simply the Roman has been punished for his success. Had Leicester City not won the league last year then recent history suggests Ranieri might have been given more time.
At this point two seasons ago Leicester were rooted to the bottom of the table. Nigel Pearson was backed by the board despite the likelihood of impending relegation.
The Foxes had earned just 19 points before things finally turned around in April. Leicester won seven of their final nine games and finished in a very respectable fourteenth position.
Pearson was given time to turn things around as he had been the man to win the Championship and bring Leicester back to the English top flight for the first time in ten years.
Yet Ranieri apparently did not deserve the same loyalty shown to Pearson less than a year after winning Leicester their first top flight league title in their 130 year history.
There are arguments that Ranieri had to go as staying in the Premiership is the be all and end all from a business standpoint. The problem, however, is that sacking Ranieri is a bad decision even from a cynical business-first mind-set.
Leicester City are the 20th richest team in the world based on revenue generated last year. By this metric they are richer than every single club in Portugal, in the Netherlands and in every country outside of Europe.
In the summer they were hosted by cities all around the world due to their title win. Where before they were just another club from the English Midlands, now Leicester City were suddenly a global brand.
Sacking Ranieri tarnishes the brand Leicester built last season. No longer are they the underdogs who can make impossible dreams a reality; now they are just another cynical club putting business first.
Besides which, if this were truly a smart decision, then a replacement manager would already be lined up to take the vacant position. Instead, Leicester tumbled into the relegation places (for the first time since the opening weekend) without a manager at the helm.
Ranieri deserved more time to turn around the Foxes’ form. If the club does get relegated this year, it is unlikely people will mourn quite so much as they have already mourned Ranieri’s dismissal.