Neil Humphreys on Ranieri sacking: Shame on you, Leicester
Leicester's Thai owners show ignorance and greed in merciless axing of Ranieri
Gareth Southgate recently said that he loved the game, but didn't like the football industry.
On days like this, it's easy to despise the grubby industry for what it really is.
Leicester City's gutless sacking of Claudio Ranieri yesterday morning (Singapore time) showed the ugly game in all its ignominy.
The club's owners, foreign in every sense, revealed both their ignorance and greed with one merciless swing of the axe, proving yet again that their decision was a financial one and had nothing to do with football.
By taking a blowtorch to the greatest story in the history of team sport, Leicester's owners have lost the hearts and minds of those they gained last season.
For this reason alone, they are welcome to the humiliation of relegation that is likely to follow.
And the mutinous Foxes can go down with them.
In his statement, Leicester's vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said they were "duty-bound to put the club's long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment".
But the sacking does the complete opposite.
This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City. 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... 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.Leicester vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha
Aiyawatt is thinking only of the millions of pounds that'll be potentially lost through relegation without considering the millions of people around the world who now know the name of "Leicester City", thanks entirely to Ranieri and his merry band of misfits, journeymen and over-achievers.
The Foxes' title win transcended football. They were the little men that could.
The Leicester effect was intoxicating and invigorating, suggesting that if they could, anyone could.
They defined the very essence of competitive sport.
For one hypnotic season, football wasn't about seedy agents chasing zeroes in China or dodgy billionaires dividing up the game's real estate among themselves. Football, just for a moment, was simply about football again.
And Ranieri was the uplifting central character in a tale with a happy ending. But the romance is dead now. The egocentric billionaires are back in charge.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has unnecessarily stomped on a decent man's legacy.
The Leicester owner's tacky displays of wealth had rankled with the local community for a while; the helicopter drop-ins, the constant plugging of Brand Thailand and so on.
In Ranieri's subsequent press conference, players gatecrashed the event and drenched their manager in champagne.
The 65-year-old Italian conducted interviews sopping wet, looking every inch the clown that he was perhaps perceived to be within the club.
He rarely got the respect he deserved from players or employers. He was sabotaged from within.
Jamie Vardy lacked the courage to move to Arsenal and settled for an easy payday.
Riyad Mahrez angled for a move, didn't get one and also settled for an easy payday.
Neither have broken a sweat since. And they were never alone in their inertia.
If Leicester's owners stabbed Ranieri in the back, his players knifed him through the heart.
Talk of dressing room anarchy is just the latest example of the cowardly player power that makes the game so hard to love.
Had the Italian stayed, the Foxes might still have gone down. But so what?
Their relegation would have magnified their remarkable achievement, not lessened it, proving that they really were sheep in Foxes' clothing after all; perpetual bottom feeders who were elevated for a single season by Ranieri.
He deserved a chance to go quietly in May. But Ranieri was denied that well-earned privilege, instead joining the disreputable club of sacked title-winners.
Yesterday, he was a statue in waiting in Leicester city's centre. Today, he is an embarrassing pub quiz question.
Intelligent Leicester fans really didn't want this. They are saying as much on social media.
But Leicester are not run by Leicester fans. They are governed by ruthless, overseas investors whose decisions are driven entirely by finance, ego and their personal branding back in Thailand.
Never again will we allow ourselves to believe that football isn't anything other than a gluttonous business gorging on whatever's left of the game's soul.
If there's one silver lining, Ranieri has at least been spared the indignity of relegation.
With a bit of luck, Leicester City will not.
FOXES’ DECLINE IN NUMBERS
Leicester have not won away from home in the English Premier League this season. They have also not scored in 2017.
Riyad Mahrez has three goals and two assists this season, but played a pivotal role last term with 17 goals and 11 assists en route to becoming PFA Player of the Year. Teammate Jamie Vardy, who scored in 11 consecutive league games last season on his way to 24 goals for the season, has just five this time round.