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    Joe Jones
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    Twitter: twitter JoeJones1862

    Joe Jones: One year on, Leicester City's decision to sack Claudio Ranieri has been fully vindicated

    The Premier League is currently plodding along as expected, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal occupying the top six spaces. Likewise, last season finished with those same teams in the top six, in a slightly different order.

    It's hard to fathom that, just two years ago, the entire country - and perhaps the world - was rooting for the success of a team that had absolutely no right being at the top table and, as it turned out, Leicester City miraculously finished top of the pile in arguably - in fact no, call it DEFINITELY - the greatest underdog history of all time.

    However, on this day one year ago, everyone's favourite underdog became everyone's most despised villain, when Claudio Ranieri - the man who had delivered miracles at the King Power Stadium - was sacked from his role.

    How appropriate that the city where Richard III is interred would yield a triumphant king who would go on to die - in  a sporting sense - in battle and also provide a tale of treachery and tragedy which William Shakespeare would have been proud of.

    As an East Midlander myself who was absolutely delighted to see my region triumph against all odds, I was naturally heartbroken at the turn of events, and likewise, the entire sporting community that had hailed Leicester was now mourning collectively and willing the club, that had betrayed them as they had betrayed Ranieri, to suffer relegation.

    But as emotional as football is, the reality is one of pragmatism and logic. And the cold hard truth is that, for all of Ranieri's amazing work in 2015-16, Leicester were at real risk of having all that hard work undone with relegation, which would have tarnished their legacy - the first Premier League champions to be relegated the following season - and also compromise the club from a financial perspective.

    Ranieri's second season at Leicester saw him make three major errors. The first was in the transfer market, as his post-title signings ended up not delivering in the blue shirt. The second was his somewhat blind loyalty in the previous season's key players, who were underperforming in 2016-17 and should have really been dealt with more sternly, and the third was his refusal to change his 4-4-2 despite the rest of the division now knowing exactly how to counter it.

    Obviously N'Golo Kante's departure left a huge gap in midfield and Ranieri could do nothing about his exit, likewise with scout Steve Walsh's move to Everton while the added expectations and status as reigning champions probably gave the entire club a huge bout of stage fright.

    However, the reality is that Ranieri couldn't adapt appropriately and so the club's league status was at risk. Hence the board's unpopular but ultimately appropriate decision to commit regicide.

    The appointment of Craig Shakespeare only added to the narrative - the Brutus to Ranieri's Julius Caesar, the Claudius to Ranieri's King Hamlet, who usurped the throne after the predecessor's downfall. And then when the players suddenly began playing superbly again, it only added to the illusion that the players had downed tools under Ranieri.

    Going back to that old pragmatism, Shakespeare managed to keep the club in the top-flight, and this is where the owners, in my opinion, made their one big mistake in their tenure so far - giving him a three-year contract. And incidentally, this is probably the most "emotional" decision that the club made, looking at his results in the short term rather than lack of experience at the top level or indeed any kind of long-term vision for the club.

    As it turned out, Shakespeare was himself sacked just eight games into the 2017-18 season, with the team struggling once again, and the ensuing appointment of former Southampton manager Claude Puel appears to have finally yielded that the plan was all along for Leicester - a solid, efficient, stable top-ten Premier League side.

    Meanwhile, Ranieri is now at Nantes, who sit a very impressive fifth in the Ligue 1 table and are dreaming of "going on a European tour", while Shakespeare has linked up with Walsh at Everton, where he currently plies his trade in his natural position, that of coach.

    So, all's well that ends well basically. One year on from the biggest act of sporting regicide in history, it seems like things have worked out well for everyone.

    One last point to make - the Srivaddhanaprabha family has made several important and often unpopular decisions at Leicester. Not sacking Nigel Pearson when the team looked set for relegation was one. Sacking Pearson after the team was safe was another (although his son's sacking by the club following the Thai tour scandal probably played a big part).

    Then, the decision to appoint Ranieri was met with howls of laughter and derision, while his sacking was met with widespread condemnation and sadness. Then we moved on to Shakespeare and now Puel, with the club finally doing well.

    My point is, the owners have more often than not been vindicated in their crucial decisions, so massive credit to them for sticking to their guns and doing what's best for the club rather than what's best for the narrative.

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    Well said! The owners have been fantastic, really couldn't wish for better. They've not been infallible though as the celebrity appointments of Sousa, and even more clearly Sven, proved. But they soon learned from their mistakes and since those dark days they've been brave enough to go with their gut instincts, regardless of the endless media criticisms they bring.

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