The players may deny it, but Monday’s performance proves that they were fully responsible for Claudio Ranieri’s sacking.
Many people will say that Monday night’s 3-1 win over Liverpool justified the decision by Leicester City to sack coach Claudio Ranieri just 10 months after he took the Foxes into dreamland when they won the Premier League title.
Things are never that simple, though.
Fans, although happy with the result that lifts the troubled Foxes out of the relegation zone, must be wondering why the same eleven players could play with the intensity they showed against Liverpool when they have been so dire in recent weeks.
Vardy, a shadow of himself for much of this season, was suddenly back to his best – harassing the Liverpool back line, sniffing out chances and looking to run onto defence-splitting through balls at every opportunity.
The rest of the team were also similarly inspired, recreating the kind of high-intensity display that was the norm during their march to the Premier League title.
How is this possible?
A manager that takes a team to a league title does not suddenly lose all his motivational skills.
Similarly, a team that wins the league does not suddenly become a relegation contender overnight. So, for there to be such a dramatic transformation in the space of a few days points to the obvious, that the players were purposely underperforming for their former manager.
For weeks reports were circulating that Ranieri had lost the confidence of the senior players, who were questioning his team selections – particularly his preference for an underperforming Ahmed Musa over Demarai Gray. Those rumours were dismissed by several players.
For Claudio, read Caesar.
Yet, in the post match interview following Monday’s win, Vardy and Danny Drinkwater gave the appearance of naughty schoolboys, guiltily glancing at each other as they talked about what had changed while making excuses for past misdemeanours. It was hard to believe their protestations of innocence.
When asked about the amazing transformation, they eagerly grabbed the reporter’s bait, saying that the performance against Liverpool was a ‘reaction’ to criticism that the players had caused Ranieri’s dismissal.
That excuse doesn’t wash, though. If professional footballers can react in such a way to people questioning their integrity, then why didn’t Vardy react earlier in the season when people labelled him a one-season wonder?
Footballers are paid a ridiculous amount of money and should perform week in, week out – regardless of the circumstances.
But then that is how things are in the upside-down world of professional football. Workers underperform and it is their manager who takes the fall. And the players know this.
The fact of the matter is that Vardy and co were fully responsible for Ranieri’s sacking – whether they intended it or not.
And as such they should hang their heads in shame.
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