Claudio Ranieri

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Ranieri speaks out on Leicester firing, backs his former players

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Claudio Ranieri left Leicester City with class, though he admits there was a problem at the club — and it wasn’t his players.

The Italian manager was fired in late February with Leicester embroiled in a relegation battle, less than one year after leading the Foxes to one of the most improbable title runs in soccer history.

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Reports emerged that some players wanted him out, and Leicester has responded with much improved form. But Ranieri says the impetus for his firing, beyond results, came from somewhere else, according to Sky Sports.

“I cannot believe that my players killed me. No, no, no.”

“Maybe it could be somebody behind me, but also the little problem I had the year before and we won the title. Maybe these people, this year, when we lose they push a little more. That’s it. I don’t want to tell. I am a serious man, a loyal man. What I have to say, I say face-to-face.”

The fallout from the Ranieri firing was wild, with Cesare Prandelli claiming he rejected replacing his fellow Italian based on Leicester’s actions and Jamie Vardy admitting his family received death threats over reports he was involved with the rancor.

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

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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.

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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”

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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.

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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.”

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.