English Premier League champions Leicester City have announced that they have parted company with manager Claudio Ranieri. The Italian steered the Foxes to their first ever championship last season, in what is certain to go down as one of the greatest achievements in footballing history. Ranieri’s sacking comes just one day after the Midlands club lost 2-1 to Sevilla in their Champions League Round of 16 debut.
In a statement released on Thursday night, Leicester said that “domestic results in the current campaign have placed the Club’s Premier League status under threat. The Board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the Club’s greatest interest.”
City Vice-Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: “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.”
Srivaddhanaprabha added: “Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City. His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the Club and develop its profile on a global scale. We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve.”
Ranieri leaves Leicester 17th in the Premier League, just one point above the relegation zone having failed to halt a slide that has seen his team unable to score a league goal in 2017. The Foxes now go into a crucial run of fixtures, with Liverpool, fellow relegation rivals Hull City and the return fixture against Sevilla all coming up within the next three weeks.
The Foxes have endured a difficult season coming off the back of their extraordinary Premier League title-winning campaign. The failure of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy to hit the heights of last season and the loss of N’golo Kante has sent Leicester plummeting down the table. City have lost their last five league games, with the last victory coming against West Ham United on New Years Eve.
The knockout cups looked to offer some form of respite. Leicester topped their Champions League group and beat East Midlands rivals Derby County in the FA Cup before exiting at the fifth-round stage to League One Millwall. A 2-1 loss to Sevilla gave Leicester a fighting chance to progress by virtue of their away goal when the two teams meet again on March 14th.
Life without Ranieri begins with the visit of Liverpool on Monday night. Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and first-team coach Mike Stowell are set to take the reigns whilst the recruitment process to replace Ranieri begins.