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English champion Leicester fires Ranieri as relegation looms

Updated: 2017-02-24 09:39

English champion Leicester fires Ranieri as relegation looms

Claudio Ranieri Manager of Leicester City lifts the Premier League Trophy as players celebrate the season champions after the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on May 7, 2016 in Leicester, UK. [Photo/VCG]

"After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad," former Leicester and England player Gary Lineker tweeted.

Leicester could be in the Premier League's relegation zone by the time the team plays its next match, at home to Liverpool on Monday. Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and first-team coach Mike Stowell have been placed in temporary charge of the side.

Ranieri was hired by Leicester in July 2015, joining a club that escaped relegation the previous season thanks to a run of seven wins and a draw from its last nine games. Many criticized the appointment of Ranieri because of his disappointing record in his most recent job, as coach of Greece.

He made an instant impact, though, winning the league in his first season as English soccer's supposed heavyweights found no answer to Leicester's counterattacking style and unwavering team spirit. Ranieri charmed the media with his unique phrases and lovable personality.

"His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the club and develop its profile on a global scale," Srivaddhanaprabha said. "We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve."Leicester wasn't expected to repeat last season's feats but neither was the club expected to be battling against relegation, not after twice breaking its transfer record in the offseason to bolster the squad.

The departure of N'Golo Kante to Chelsea hit the team hard, robbing Leicester of its midfield rock and exposing its aging defense. Complacency also seems to have set in.

Whatever Ranieri attempted to turn things around — a change of tactics, formation, personnel — didn't come off. Leicester's board issued a statement 16 days ago, making "absolutely clear its unwavering support for Ranieri," but the threat of relegation was too strong.

"We are now faced with a fight to reach that objective (of staying up)," Srivaddhanaprabha said, "and feel a change is necessary to maximize the opportunity presented by the final 13 games."

Associated Press

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