February 24th 2017
Player Power Gone Mad, Or Football Gone Wrong?

It is a statement that shows everything that is wrong with modern football.

“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,”

That is part of the statement released by Leicester City Vice Chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, when the club made the decision to sack Claudia Ranieri last night.

He also said: “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.”

And he won them the league. That probably wasn’t something they expected him to do.

Now, just nine months later, he’s looking for a job.

That’s bad enough and, like the sackings of Gary Monk at Swansea last season and Gary Rowett at Birmingham this, it is a decision that seems ridiculous to neutrals. In this case, though,  it is made worse by two things.

First, the use of the phrase “global profile”.  Fair enough, winning a league does that, but is that really what football is about these days? I guess you can see it from Srivaddhanaprabha’s point of view. They are businessmen from Thailand and their investment is no doubt made with half an eye at least on their homeland. Also in fairness to the Foxes owners they have been there for seven years without the controversy that has so dogged many other clubs like Leeds, Cardiff and Hull, which is what makes this sacking of Ranieri all the more hard to understand.

Then there’s the other point to all of this. Player Power.

“Sky Sources” are this morning reporting that “senior players” were unhappy with the manager. If that’s true then that is probably the worst aspect about this whole thing and is indicative of the reason people think footballers have lost touch with reality.

Are these, perhaps, the same senior players that signed £100,000 a week contracts last year? Or are they perhaps the same journeyman players that somehow managed to raise their game to unbelievable heights last season. Heights they have never got close to before and most probably never will again? Maybe it’s the same players who bottom of the league in 2015 before going an unprecedented late run to keep themselves up?

Because if it is those players then, honestly, they should be ashamed.

The players were happy to take the plaudits last year (and richly deserved they were too) so now, when they are fourth from bottom, they deserve the criticism. Instead, it seems they went to the owner and laid the blame elsewhere.

You could argue that they spent a lot of money this summer, and that those players haven’t been great. You would probably be justified in saying that last season’s champions wouldn’t have expected to be in the relegation shake up in late February, but then, with the players they have, where would Leicester really, truly expect to be?

What Leicester City did last season might never be done ever again and whilst, nothing will ever take that away from them and that afternoon where they lifted the Premier League trophy will never be forgotten, not just by Leicester fans but football supporters in general. But isn’t it sad that football has come to this?

Since the Premier League started in 1992, there have been four managers sacked in the season after they won the league. It just so happens they are four of the last five people to do it. Antonio Conte needs to start worrying, if recent history is anything to go by.

Andy Thorley

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