Less than 24 hours ago, Jamie Vardy pulled a goal back for Leicester City, in doing so keeping their Champions League tie with Sevilla alive. It ended Vardy’s goal drought and the performance in the last thirty minutes of that game was better than anything we have seen from Leicester in a long time. If they could reach that level again in their remaining Premier League games then they just might be able to halt their seemingly inevitable journey back to the Championship.
A day later, Claudio Ranieri, the man who had, against all odds, led Leicester to a Premier League title and through the group stages of their first Champions League campaign, had been sacked.
The saddest part is, despite his remarkable feat, Ranieri’s sacking is not hugely surprising. It simply confirms, for better or for worse, that loyalty and sentiment have no place in football any more. More important by far is a place in the Premier League and a share of the lucrative TV money.
On some levels, Ranieri’s sacking makes sense. It is rare these days for a team to go on such a poor run of form and the manager to not lose his job. Every year now a team seems to sack their manager whilst in the relegation zone, only to climb to safety under a new boss. Most recently, Hull City have had an upturn in form after changing manager, as have Swansea City following the arrival of Paul Clement. If this does not work you can always take a leaf out of Swansea’s book and hope manager number three is more successful. Until these methods stop working then they will continue to be used.
However, the likes of Mike Phelan and Bob Bradley had not achieved the incredible successes that Ranieri had. His sacking proves that no manager, no matter to what extent they have previously over-achieved, is ever more than a few games away from being out of a job.
Leicester will always have that magical season but magic is not what football is about. It is about winning games and earning money and doing whatever it takes to do so, even if that means killing off the hero of one of football’s greatest ever fairy tales.