Stop the bleating. He had to go.

on Friday, 24 February 2017. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Come on. Enough. Stop the bleating please. Dilly ding. Dilly dong - Ranieri has gone - and not before time. Leicester are in crisis and he's to blame. If he's not - why did he get all the credit for winning the title last season? The re-moaners can't have it both ways. 

I last blogged on this very subject about two weeks ago. The surprise to me is that Leicester gave Ranieri the time they did this season and allowed things to fall apart so dramatically. 

Here are one or two facts surrounding a charismatic man who charmed us all the way to the most extra-ordinary title win of all time. 

I said in my last blog that the real architect of last season's triumph was Nigel Pearson. He was - him, Steve Walsh, who recruited the talent, and Craig Shakespeare, who coached the team. Fact, as Rafa might say. 

Pearson guided Leicester back from oblivion to the big time. All right, they initially struggled to adjust to life in the Premier League, but what a finish they had to that first season back - seven wins from the last nine - and the greatest escape of all time was complete. It was Pearson that had every right to be 'disappointed' about the decision to sack him - and a lot more than Ranieri. 

The players didn't want Ranieri as his successor. Fact. It was with that information that I predicted they'd go down the following season - believe it or not, having spent a lifetime on the fringes of the game listening to what's happening within it, I have gathered useful information. It's my job. Where I can I share it with you in these blogs. 

They players were never comfortable with Ranieri. Fact. If a strong dressing room can down tools and see a manager sacked - Mancini, Moyes, Mourinho and now Ranieri - then it most almost surely follow that it can galvanise itself into producing success? How many times have we all heard Graeme Souness tell us that the most successful Liverpool teams didn't need a coach? He would add 'if there was a problem at half time me, Kenny and Jocky (Alan Hansen) would sort it out'. I've heard that line a million times! Fact

Now that's not to dilute entirely the impact Bob Paisley had at Anfield, nor that which Ranieri had at Leicester. Ranieri played the Press brilliantly last season, shielding his players from the pressures of what they were doing. He made us laugh and ultimately he astounded us by helping to deliver that title. Fair play to him - it was stunning. We'll never see the likes of it again. 

But there were always doubts and cracks in the dressing room. The same doubts emerged last summer although although we'll never hear it publicly. That was the time for everybody to part company. Everybody would've been remembered as 'winners'. Fact. 

The dressing room always wanted either Walsh or Shakespeare to succeed Pearson. Now Shakespeare is in charge temporarily. Believe me, if the players can 'play him in' they will. And I wouldn't entirely rule out Pearson coming back, although when that idea was muted at the beginning of last week, the hierarchy at Leicester were insistent Ranieri was staying. Something changed and it changed quickly. 

I'm grateful to those of you who take time out to share your thoughts on Twitter so let me address a few of them. 

One of the biggest criticisms of me supporting Leicester's decision was that I'd made my feelings plain about strong dressing rooms before. Yes, I have. And yes, I was disgusted at how City's dressing room played Mancini out - even going so far as to toss a Cup Final off. United's players saw off Moyes. We know very well now who ran Mourinho out of the Bridge. So what's the difference? I'll tell you. 

At City the owners should've backed Mancini. They were at the beginning of a project and could easily have replaced the dissenters and not been affected by the turmoil. It was easier to get rid of Mancini though, with the knowledge that it would eventually be easier to sack his replacement to make room for Guardiola, which was always going to happen. I've addressed this previously. 

Moyes was 'guaranteed' two years to sort out a fading Manchester United. Forget they'd won the title the previous season - it was all over for most of that team and Fergie knew it. It's why he left then. Moyes was categorically told that missing out on Champions League football for a couple of seasons, while he addressed the re build, wouldn't affect his position. Again, the hierarchy crumbled under player power, when they were in a much stronger position to back their manager than Leicester are. The same applied at Chelsea. 

Leicester are different. They'll never challenge for another title. They're in free fall and right now everything says they're going down. Something HAD to be done. Time is their enemy. There simply isn't any. Now, this change doesn't guarantee they'll survive, but it was a guarantee they were going down without it. 

Enough please of the sentimental nonsense that 'Ranieri deserves better'. Why? That 'Ranieri deserved a crack at the Champions League'. Why? That 'football has lost its soul'. Utter nonsense. In any other walk of life a leader failing as badly as Ranieri was would've been shown the door weeks ago. 

Look - last season was wonderful. We all enjoyed it, but you can't run a football club on memories or sentiment. Ranieri will go down, rightly, as Leicester's most successful manager ever. He was out of work and going nowhere when Leicester gave him the gilt edged chance that they did. He was coming off the back of a complete shambles with Greece. It worked out well for both club and individual, who leaves with a vastly enhanced cv and a nice few quid. But it's over. Done. Fact. It was a business decision and the right decision, no matter what the romantics tell you. 

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