You are young, bright, intelligent, courteous and know how to treat a lady; so you should be the dream of every woman on the face of the earth; in ideal terms that its. So you summon up the courage and ask her to the Prom; she sees you are a nice guy, so she says yes. You pick her up on time; open the door of the car for her, open the door to the hall to let her in; pull up the seat for her to take a sit first; the perfect gentleman; but what happens at the end of the night she leaves you for the bad boy, who didn’t even care enough to ask her to the Prom in the first place. Tells you one clear story that Nice guys always come last or never win.
Lets take a look at Leicester City for example; rewind to two seasons ago; ”bad boy” manager Nigel Pearson was in charge; got them promoted as Champions of the Football League Championship the previous season; rallied to rescue the Foxes from relegation with an impressive run of victories in the last few months of the season in their first season back in their Premier League; however this was without one controversy or the other. We can start with the antics of his Son and some academy/reserve players; who filmed themselves on a racist orgy whilst away on tour or is it the comments to a Journalist that he had his head buried in the sand like an Ostrich. The Board got tired, fired Pearson; despite keeping the foxes up and went ahead to hired the self styled Tinker man and all round nice guy; Claudio Ranieri.
Claudio Ranieri was fresh from been fired by the Greek National team for losing to Faroe Islands; who does that? Nobody loses to Faroe Islands, absolutely no one does that. I was on of those who kicked against his appointment at the time. The Leicester City Board as far as they were concerned had gotten a much more calm, experienced and renowned manager with pedigree of coaching many top clubs in Europe. The Tinker Man got to action; left much of the structures inherited from Nigel Pearson, signed N’Golo Kante and as they say the rest is history.
Ranieri made the most outlandish of Cinderella stories; fiction, a figment of a little boy’s imagination come to reality; we doubted for many months; Leicester will falter by January, they didn’t; wait till the fixtures come thick and fast in March and April, the wheels will firmly fall off; it didn’t and on that day in May; the Foxes lead by Wes Morgan; a player who moved from Dunkirk to Nottingham Forest for two sets of kits lifted the ultimate prize in English Football. Maybe we do not understand the enormity of this achievement; this is a Leicester City side that the best they have ever achieved are two League Cup victories during the Martin O’Neill era; now why I do not consider these major or grand achievements is because the period between 1995- 2004; many of the big clubs used the League Cup as a tool to blood and give their young players first team experience; don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the success of Martin O’Neill; just distinguishing between the importance or gravity of their individual success.
Consider the amount of money been spent by the big clubs; Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea etc despite this Leicester City found a way by spending just a fraction of the transfer fees paid by the big clubs; with largely unknown players; if you ask me the achievement of Claudio Ranieri deserves a lot more and not a sacking; not at this point with 13 games to go; I don’t know the miracle worker of a manager Leicester City will get now that will save them from relegation; even at that if there’s one manager that deserves the right to relegate Leicester City and potentially get the opportunity to bring them back up; its Claudio Ranieri; just take a look at Newcastle United and their resolve to hold on to Rafa Benitez. Many have said the financial considerations of going down would be too enormous to absorb by Leicester City; this I do not agree with. Leicester City are in the second round of the Champions League with a good chance to make it to the Quarter finals; even if they don’t, the Foxes would have made nothing less than £30 Million from their Champions League campaign. If you add this to proposed parachute payments that accompany a team’s relegation; Leicester City would be heading in the direction of record revenues; more so their wage bill is not that astronomical; so I ask whats the rush? Why the knee jerk reaction?
When calls and debates on the future of Claudio Ranieri began; my stance was simple, if the Board feel he was no longer the ideal man to lead Leicester City; why not elevate the man as a sign of respect, make him a Director of Football or something and this madness of embracing the Greatest manager in the club’s history. What this says is that Football as an entity has more or less lost its human face; its all about the numbers now;but in Leicester’s case the numbers still add up and well at that. It is even more comical the names that have been brandished as likely successors for a man who should have a statue erected in front of the King Power Stadium and at the City Center in Leicester; the likes of Roberto Mancini (a man who took off as the rooms of the San Siro got hotter) and a personal favorite of mine; Alan Pardew, any chance we will get another premature dance move from him.
Leicester City owe Claudio Ranieri too much; not just as a club, but as a city in general; Leicester City are not just a football club anymore; it has become a reference point, a case study and a tourist attraction; all because of what the Tinker Man achieved in the Midlands, but as with every story of this nature; the Nice Guys never win.