The news has just broken that Claudio Ranieri has just been sacked by Leicester City, only ten months since leading them to the most improbable, unbelievable, astonishing and life-affirming League title of all time. The sacking comes as Leicester face the serious prospect of depriving Manchester City of their unique record as the only club to be Champions one year and relegated the next.
There are a lot of ways to describe this decision, starting with unromantic, ungrateful, callous, miserable, heartless and continuing across that sector of the emotional spectrum ad infinitum. And these words would all be true and accurate and correct.
Yet, were it not for that unforgettable, joyous rampage last year, that overturning of probability, likelihood, form and history, we would be looking at Leicester’s record this season, their lack of wins, their lack of goals, and the words we would be using would be expected, understandable, inevitable.
And I speak as someone for whom last season was a delight, because Leicester City did something that you only dream of seeing happen. That can’t be taken away, even if relegation follows, though I desperately hope it won’t. But I see the logic, I understand the necessity, I am not surprised, merely saddened. To protest this decision is like protesting that the sun goes down at night.
So thank you Claudio Ranieri. I can’t say thank you like the real Foxes can, I can’t go deep enough in my heart to summon up that soul-centred conviction, but I cheered you on last year, and your achievement will always be a shining example for me of how life can still be unpredictable, can defy predictability, and can make you quite glad to be around to see it.
You are not disgraced by this. This cannot touch your achievement, cannot rock the pedestal on which you belong. Go with your head held high, this was achieved by you and you can never be shamed.
And good luck Leicester. May your first League match next season be a visit to Old Trafford, as proof you’re still here. No, wait, may it be the Emirates or the Etihad or Stamford Bridge or Anfield. Then I can cheer you on clean-heartedly to beat the bastards!