39th, 42nd, 43rd, 25th, 30th, 29th, 26th, 21st, 14th, 1st
Even if you were blissfully unaware of how the Foxes overcame odds of 5,000/1 to become the most unlikely, and glorious champions in the history of the sport last year, it’s not difficult to work out that Leicester’s Premier League status hasn’t exactly been a given in recent seasons—in fact it’s not that long ago that the club were relegated to the third tier… how quickly we forget.
The word “miracle” is all-too-easily bandied about in respect of sporting achievement, but what Leicester City accomplished last season was probably as close as you can get to that inexplicable event (albeit without the prerequisite divine intervention). Winning the Premier League was a remarkable feat... actually, being in the division in the first place was amazing enough given their position a dozen or so games before the end of the 2014/15 campaign.
Nigel Pearson’s heroics weren’t enough to keep him in employment then, and although I’m in no way comparing the two departures, Claudio Ranieri has now been shown the same door.
The product delivered to the fans today is far removed from the game I watched as a child. The money involved in football—particularly in the top flight—is beyond my comprehension; and to those who run the clubs success is measured in pounds, shillings and pence (you can replace sterling with the currency of any respective owner’s actual country of birth).
You only have to see the differences in team selection to recognise that certain competitions are essentially meaningless when compared with the financial rewards of simply preserving Premier League status. Claudio Ranieri’s title triumph was a blip; a wonderful, magnificent blip, and with Leicester City currently in a position where the whole world would have expected them to be had it not been for that “blip”, this thoroughly likeable man has paid a heavy price for the consequences of increased expenditure and arguably unrealistic heightened expectation.
Money and sentiment do not mix in the modern game; and words clearly mean very little (viz. the club’s declaration of “unwavering support” just over a fortnight ago), but if the owners have done the Italian one favour, they have forever preserved his reputation and status in the East Midlands. I might be wrong, but I fancy the Leicester bosses will miss Claudio Ranieri long before he misses them….