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Has Ranieri run his race with Leicester?

Saturday 11th February 2017
Six months ago we couldn't stop talking about him, the Italian was the most celebrated manager in the Premier League – he had performed some sort of miracle. But his ship has since capsized and the sun is now shining where it shouldn't – Claudio Ranieri is under serious fire at Leicester! Is it time for the Italian to take a bow and leave?
It's no longer news that defending Premier League Champions, Leicester City, are in danger of getting relegated at the end of the season – the Foxes lie just one point above the drop zone. It's been a bizarre campaign that highly contrasts their unprecedented achievements last season.

When the season began and Leicester crumbled to a harrowing 2-1 defeat to Hull City, many were quick to wave it away, confident in the belief that the Champions would certainly bounce back. However, that defeat was actually the epiphany of the worst title defence in the history of the Premier League – Leicester has since gone on to lose 12 more times in the league and find themselves struggling to avoid the drop like they once used to.

We can point accusing fingers at the misfiring Leicester players all day, but in the end, it all comes down to the action and inaction of one man – Claudio Ranieri!

The Italian gaffer performed pure magic with Leicester last season, transforming them from Premier League strugglers to title contenders and then to eventual title winners – round of applause for Claudio again – Oh, I forgot he got that as he stepped up to accept his FIFA Best Men's Coach of the year award.

But like every act of magic, it's surreal and unable to be sustained, Ranieri has found himself quite incapable of guiding his team to a repeat performance or at least to a respectable position in the Premier League table this season.

It's gone from one complaint to the other after every defeat. Excerpts from Ranieri's post-match press conference per Sky Sports, after the home defeat to Manchester United reads:

“Until the first goal, we were in the match. We were playing to our philosophy, trying to press, trying to do something good.”

“In two minutes we lost our strength… It is unbelievable. The first 40 minutes we were very solid, very strong against a good team. Then for the second half, we wanted to come back, but we let them score a very easy goal and it was too difficult to go back.”

The above quote is riddled with the sort of excuses you wouldn't hear from the Italian, last season – here we are. With Ranieri at the helm, it's almost impossible to predict that the foxes will win a Premier League game before it's played – it's been that bad!

Of course, Ranieri has guided Leicester to the Champions League round of 16, where the Foxes can still save some face if they can overcome Sevilla and progress in the competition, but Leicester's progress in the Champions League would count for little if they can't get their foot out of the mud and escape relegation from the Premier League.

Mathematically, Ranieri's Leicester can still win two titles this season – they are still in contention to win the FA Cup and the Champions League; but realistically, the Foxes cannot wait for next season – this campaign has offered nothing but a rude awakening.

Ranieri will not complain that he wasn't given the funds to buy players – the club broke its transfer record twice this season with the signing of Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani. The only notable player from their all-conquering 2016 season sold was midfielder N'Golo Kante – so he (Ranieri) can't complain that the club sold players either.

Claudio Ranieri signed for Leicester in 2015, guided the team to win the Premier League in 2016, was named manager of the year in England and FIFA Best men's coach for 2016, but it's time Leicester City part ways with the Italian tactician – he's run his race with the Foxes, it's time he moved on.
Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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