Photo credit: Michael Regan/Getty

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, the architect of the greatest, most shocking, I-still-can’t-believe-it-happened-even-though-it-definitely-did championship victory in the history of sports, has reportedly been fired today.

The Daily Mail broke the story, and Leicester have put out a statement confirming that they have indeed let Ranieri go. Some quotes from that statement:

Claudio, appointed City manager in July 2015, led the Foxes to the greatest triumph in the Club’s 133-year history last season, as we were crowned champions of England for the first time. His status as the most successful Leicester City manager of all time is without question.

However, domestic results in the current campaign have placed the Club’s Premier League status under threat and the Board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the Club’s greatest interest.

This decision to fire Ranieri is more sad than it is shocking, though the timing is a little strange. Leicester have had a terrible follow-up to their Premier League-winning season. The team isn’t winning as many games as its talent would suggest, they’re only one point above the relegation zone, none of the players are playing particularly well, and Ranieri hasn’t been able to come up with any solution to the problems.

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If Ranieri deserves credit—and he unquestionably does—for the brilliant tactical scheme he implemented during last season’s title run, then he also deserves blame for either not being able to get his players to replicate that plan or to come up with something new. There certainly has to be another manager out there who will be able to get the most out of what remains a very talented squad.

Still, it sucks that it didn’t work out. Ranieri was so good last season, getting everything from tactics to player management to the easing of pressure literally exactly right. He has always been regarded as a very good manager (let’s not forget, he’s coached big teams like Juventus and Chelsea and Inter and Valencia in the past; he’s not some nobody who lucked his way into a title in England) and an even better person. He deserves all the plaudits he got for last season’s miracle, and it’s too bad that he couldn’t build on it this year.

The worst thing you can say about the firing is that it’s weird to make this move now. Leicester eked out a pretty good 2-1 loss to Sevilla in the away leg of their Champions League match yesterday, which means they stand a decent chance to progress to the next round in that competition. And while the club shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a manager to do better with these players than Ranieri has this year, looking for one now, in the middle of the season, makes the search more difficult.

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Again, though, Ranieri wasn’t getting the results he needed, and so now he’s gone. At least he, Leicester fans, and everyone else will always have last season.

[Daily Mail]