Ranieri’s sacking would perfectly symbolise the corporate era of football

The prospect of Leicester City being relegated after winning the Premier League title drastically against the odds would frame the fairytale season into further obscurity.

Halfway through the 2014/15 season under Nigel Pearson, a three-year stint in the top flight seemed unlikely, but the owners at the club would have surely grabbed it with both hands. The great escape with the Ostrich-accuser at the helm has only been amplified in the context of the fairy tale that occurred in the title-winning campaign that followed. If the Foxes were to be relegated this season, then again, their romanticised achievement last year would be amplified almost poetically.

The evidence of form in their first campaign back in the top flight as well as this year’s struggles makes the 2016 season even more special. This season’s Leicester City are the survivors of the 2014/15 campaign. Leicester City haven’t “dropped off” this year, but have returned to where everyone expects them to be in the Premier League. The realistic ceiling knocks on the top half of the table and that’s about it.

Claudio Ranieri entered the Premier League stage with the tinkerman label and out of irony, stunned the Premier League with sheer consistency. Don Ranieri has had to accommodate the loss of N’Golo Kante by bringing in Ndidi and Mendy. Vardy is isolated and Mahrez seems disengaged at times. Morgan and Huth aren’t the mountain range that they were last season either.

However, to compare the once in a lifetime form of 2016 against the Leicester City squad of today is unfair. Doing that denies that last season was an unimaginable fable of the beautiful game.

Ranieri has been given the dreaded vote of confidence from the team’s owner, indicating that his job might be on the line if the results don’t start to improve. This is emblematic of the corporate shadow that stalks football. Instead of seeing last season as a bonus, it is clearly being held up as a reference against Ranieri. If the manager is given his marching orders, it will linger at the end of the fairy tale more so than potential relegation ever could.

The likeable Italian who led the Foxes through their remarkable victories, axed before the following season had even concluded. Would any other scenario in modern football prove to be as soulless as that? It’s a results-driven conveyor belt, but Claudio’s sacking would illuminate this further and tarnish the Leicester City fairy tale forever.

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