Leicester City getting rid of Claudio Ranieri now is hardly madness | Barney Ronay
Leicester City won the title last season by being ruthless and clear-sighted so Claudio Ranieris exit with only 13 league games left makes sporting sense
Like all the best fairytales Leicester Citys title story came to an end on Thursday night with a bracing little touch of cruelty. This is usually the way of these things: poisoned apples, hungry wolves, the doomed gingerbread house. Or, as in this case, someone getting the chop.
And so farewell then, Claudio Ranieri. Well always have Leicester city centre on a muggy night in May. Well always have Robert Huth leaping above the floodlights to score at Spurs. Not to mention those oddly foggy memories of Riyad Mahrez sending Joe Hart and Martn Demichelis halfway to the Manchester velodrome with an insolent little swivel en route to a goal and a victory that gave the title pursuit an air of unstoppable ascent.
Well always have the memory of those press conferences where you pretended, shrewdly, to be a bumbling, cartoon Italian uncle from a processed tomato sauce advert, thereby giving everyone a laugh and avoiding the need to say too much and risk derailing that beautifully pure, straight-line toboggan ride through winter and spring.
Perhaps we might be able to forget, for now, all that slightly annoying dilly-dong business. Or emerge without any lasting memory of the sourness of the ending, an abrupt departure via club statement that in time will melt away, leaving just the cloudless memories of the most sensational league title victory in modern football history.
As the mists surrounding Ranieris departure begin to clear there are probably two things left worth saying. First, the narrative arc is now complete. A wild, improbable, but still oddly symmetrical story reached its pitch in May when Leicester fans in pizza suits danced in the stands, the skies thundered, everybody cried and Andrea Bocelli hit the big fat, emotional high notes.
Ranieris arrival at the King Power had been met with wariness and some suspicion. His success brought glorious disbelief. His departure has been followed now by a wave of sentiment, a collective intake of breath at the sheer audacity of this tale of rise and fall.
On which note and notwithstanding the sense of outrage, the continuing Claudio Ranieri memorial garden-of-hope shtick the second thing to say is that sacking him does make sense. It might not be the kindest option, which would have been to wait until the summer either way. But getting rid of Ranieri now is hardly madness.
The sacking of a 65-year-old manager who spent more than 80m in the close season, went out of the FA Cup to League One opposition and now faces relegation is hardly out of keeping with footballs wider history. Managers have always been disposable patsies, balm to the ire of the crowds, a stick to be waved, vaguely, at the players. The great Stan Cullis was sacked by Wolves two days after returning from a convalescent home in Eastbourne. The Everton manager Johnny Carey was sacked in a London taxi. Peter Cormack was sacked by Cowdenbeath at a roadside burger van on the Forth Bridge. Leicester were heading for relegation. The great book of football truisms says sacking Ranieri might just reverse the process.
The anomaly springs, of course, from the sheer scale of last seasons glory, a sense that the greatest title victory of the age might be enough to buy a little more time, to provide a sentimental insulation, to suggest the manager responsible is still the best man to turn it around. And yet there is no real case for applying such extended logic here.
There is still no sensible explanation of how Leicester actually managed to play so relentlessly above themselves for nine months. Momentum from the seasons end, perhaps. Talented, much-travelled players performing at their absolute best, and all at the same time. A simple gameplan. The failure of opponents to adjust in time. A steady hand. Magic. Fairy dust. Luck.