Claudio Ranieri

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Vardy claims “death threats” made to him, family over Ranieri firing

Leave a comment

Jamie Vardy claims “death threats” were made to himself and his family in the days and weeks since Claudio Ranieri was fired as Leicester City manager last month.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Vardy was, at the time, alleged to have been a central figure in a players’ revolt against the Italian manager who last season guided Leicester to the Premier League title despite 5,000-to-1 odds prior to the start of the season. Vardy says the stories were false, even providing an alibi of sorts, while also revealing the threats made against his family — quotes from the BBC:

“It is terrifying. I read one story that said I was personally involved in a meeting after the Sevilla game when I was actually sat in anti-doping for three hours.

“But then the story is out there, people pick it up and jump on it and you’re getting death threats about your family, kids, everything.”

“When people are trying to cut your missus up while she’s driving, with the kids in the back of the car, it’s not the best.”

[ MORE: Prandelli said no to Leicester “after seeing how Ranieri was treated” ]

Whether or not Vardy was the only player lobbying for Ranieri’s dismissal, or not at all involved, threats of violence have no place in society, let alone sports. Vardy went on to say that relations between Ranieri and his players were very healthy, right up until his departure.

“If there was an issue, you went and did it in the gaffer’s office or you went and did it on the tactics board, because he was happy for you to come in and put your opinion across.

“The stories were quite hurtful to be honest with you. A lot of false accusations were being thrown out there and there was nothing we, as players, could do about it.”

Prandelli: I said no to Leicester “after seeing how Ranieri was treated”

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

The managerial fraternity may seem large, in that there are literally thousands of football clubs the world over, but when you consider the planet’s population, those with experience as coach and/or manager is microscopic.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

As such, one can fairly safely assume that managers talk. “Don’t go there, the owner’s an idiot,” or “I’d take that job, that player’s going to be a star.” Thus, it’s probably wise for football clubs to treat their employees — this includes often-egotistical, millionaire managers, especially — in a manner which you’d hope for him to express to the rest of the fraternity.

On the other hand, if you treat someone so poorly that tales needn’t even be exchanged, you might just make life a whole lot harder on yourself down the road. Take, for instance, Leicester City’s search to replace recently-departed Claudio Ranieri, whose countryman, former Italian national team boss Cesare Prandelli, was offered the job in the days or weeks following Ranieri’s departure — translated quotes via the Guardian:

“I immediately said no. You don’t accept a job like that. You don’t go there after seeing how Ranieri was treated. I am not going there. Full stop.”

“He’s a coach who won a memorable, historic title and is then dumped after a few months.”

[ MORE: The “mature” one — Mourinho says he’s matured at Man United ]

Craig Shakespeare will serve as interim manager for the remainder of the 2016-17 season, at which point the club’s board will decide between keeping him on permanently or replacing him with someone who’s either, 1) not friends with Ranieri, or 2) sympathetic to his perceived mistreatment.

Leicester City’s revival begs the question: What went wrong for Ranieri?

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Leicester City is back from the dead.

Under Craig Shakespeare, the club has won three games in a row, including defeats of Liverpool and defending Europa League champions Sevilla. There’s plenty of work to be done, but they’re three points above the drop zone and into the Champions League quarterfinals. After an unprecedented goal drought in Premier League play, they have eight goals in their last three games.

Suddenly things are looking up. But with all the success also comes more questions.

Personnel wise, Shakespeare hasn’t changed a thing. Tactically, he’s done very little apart from “simplifying” things, according to midfielder Danny Drinkwater. And yet, they’re suddenly feared again. Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon singled Leicester City out as the team he’d least like to draw in Champions League play, with teams like Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, and Real Madrid still on the map.

This leaves the soccer world to ponder, where did it all go wrong under Claudio Ranieri? The conditions many blamed Leicester City’s seemingly imminent demise – fixture congestion, a regression to the mean, an aging defense, superstars slumping – all remain for Shakespeare, yet he’s figured out how to flip the switch almost immediately.

[ MORE: Week 29 Premier League Power Rankings ]

In the Italian’s last days with the club, the players appeared utterly devoid of any courage or spirit. With rumors of a player revolt, what could it have been that sucked the squad dry of any drive, fight, or confidence? And what is it about Shakespeare’s appointment that has regenerated the club morale?

Whatever caused the players to lose faith in Ranieri so suddenly, so quickly after such an unimaginable high must have been stark. The club had so recently attained an historic achievement, and yet the players appeared to have become entirely disillusioned with Ranieri’s leadership and tactical abilities.

Claudio Ranieri’s resume clearly speaks for itself, but should he procure a new job elsewhere in Europe, it’s a dark mark he’ll no doubt be asked to defend. The Italian seemed an incredibly likable character to the public, one who had his players’ backs, and the squad seemed to return the sentiment until things began to fall apart. With so little tangible change under Shakespeare’s leadership on the field to point a finger at, the immediate turnaround is just as confounding as it is impressive.

Leicester to keep Shakespeare as manager for rest of season

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Claudio Ranieri was sacked a few weeks back it wasn’t exactly a shock, however, the decision was still questioned by players, supporters and media alike.

[ MORE: Tottenham cruises into FA Cup semis behind Son hat-trick ]

The early returns on interim boss Craig Shakespeare have been solid though.

Leicester City has confirmed that Shakespeare will remain the club’s manager for the remainder of the 2016/17 season after guided the Foxes to a 2-0-0 start in his first two matches in charge.

The Foxes have picked up back-to-back 3-1 wins over Liverpool and Hull City in Premier League play, giving Leicester a bit of breathing room in the club’s current relegation battle.

Three points currently separate Leicester from 18th place, which is occupied by Hull.

Craig Shakespeare a serious Leicester City candidate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to multiple reports across England, Leicester City interim manager Craig Shakespeare will learn if he has done enough to earn the permanent job at the King Power Stadium.

Shakespeare took over on a temporary basis after the controversial departure of Claudio Ranieri, and since then, Leicester City has won both matches he took charge of, with a pair of 3-1 wins over Liverpool and fellow relegation candidates Hull City in the span of six days.

Now, according to the Daily Mail, the Sun, and others in England, Shakespeare will meet with the Leicester City board to make his pitch to them for the permanent job. The Foxes had lost five matches in a row at the time of Ranieri’s departure, and they had not won consecutive league matches at any point this season before Shakespeare’s short tenure.

“I was told the remit was the Liverpool game and then Hull,” Shakespeare said. “I have been told now – and I am quite comfortable with it – that we will have a talk towards the end of the week. The challenge we asked of the players was to put back-to-back wins together. We showed great character and resilience today to bounce back from going one down.”

“The owners will make the decision that is best for the club. Until I talk to them, I don’t know what their thoughts are.”

The other serious candidate mentioned most recently is former Fulham, Liverpool, and England boss Roy Hodgson, who also took over at Blackburn in 1997 just two years after they surprisingly won the Premier League title before falling off soon after.

“I’m there to listen to what their wishes are at the moment and I’m very comfortable with how things have gone and what they’ve told me so far,” Shakespeare said after Leicester’s last win, a victory over Hull. “There hasn’t been a lot of dialogue, but I don’t expect there to be because I’m trying to prepare the team for the next match.”