Claudio Ranieri’s sacking has split opinion in the footballing world, with the divide over whether sentiment should’ve won over pragmatism (read: player power).
Jamie Lawrence, who represented the Foxes from 1994 to 1997, knows where the blame lies though, and it’s not with the now-unemployed Italian manager:
“Player power is a powerful thing at the minute. I don’t like it, it wasn’t like that back in my day.
“Too much of it, and at the end of the day they’ve got to be accountable for them.
“The timing is all wrong. If they were going to sack him, they should’ve sacked him December time. A new manager can build a new identity, get his players in.”
There’s a feeling around social media, given reports of the Leicester City players going to the board without Ranieri’s knowledge, that they’ve stabbed the nicest man in football in the back.
It’s particularly telling that there, as of yet, hasn’t been any cliché ‘gratitude’ posts over social media from the Foxes squad.
“I get the feeling that there’s a lot of egos in the dressing room, nowadays, especially with having won the title last year. And I think these players have got too big for their boots. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and working harder, they’ve just blamed the manager.
“They can’t take all the plaudits for winning it and now they’re not taking the blame for where they’re in the league. I don’t agree with all that.
“The honesty in football has gone. When I played, we use to have a go at each other, but no one took it the wrong way because all of us wanted to win. Now, I get that suspicion that if the manager digs someone out, they hold a grudge.
“What happens in the changing room stays in the changing room. There’s a saying that: ‘we’ve all got the same goal.’
“Stuart McCall, Walshy and those guys used to dig me out, but I’d take it on board because I wanted to improve my game and I wanted the team to win.”
To call the struggles of Leicester this season surprising would be too dramatic of a word, as no one was expecting another top four push let alone a defence of the crown. But to still harbour real fears of Championship football come August, with 13 games left to play was certainly not in too many people’s predictions.
Has the money, fame and new contracts gone to the head of the players involved in the 2015/16 fairy tale?
“They had to award them new contracts. Players are going to move on, they could go to another club. Teams will give them that money, so they had to protect their interests and offer new contracts, because it’s still a business.”
There’s still plenty of time for the Foxes to pull themselves away from the relegation dogfight. And although the players who have the Premier League winners’ medal hanging above their bed at home, to avoid relegation will rank up there with lifting the crown of England’s top flight.
“It’s a massive achievement. When you go through a bad time and you get out of it, it shows a lot about your character. With Bradford, it was like winning the Champions League; everyone was writing us off and we had to beat Liverpool last day of the season to stay up, and we did.”
Speaking to Jamie Lawrence it’s painstakingly clear how much the now-Ghanian fitness coach still cares for the club he represented over two decades ago. And it’s that very passion and desire that the Foxes lack this season.
Maybe it would’ve been better for the club if Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez had gone to Arsenal…