OPINION: Claudio Ranieri - Everybody's got to learn sometime in the Premier League

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Ignat Manjoo on the sacking of Leicester City's manager, after an outpouring of international reaction ranging from anger to tears and cold betrayal

While last season's English Premier League represented fantasy and fairytale, Leicester City's no longer flying, they're grounded in reality now. 

Have you seen the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Therein characters make the same mistakes over and again even after erasing their memories. That's what the reality of professional league football seems like these years. Yes, football owners and often even the fans have short memories.

Most people might be shocked with Ranieri's sacking, but I'm not. Bad memories? In 2010 Carlo Ancelotti won the Premier League with Chelsea, setting new records on the way. Not long later he was sacked. In both 2012 and 2014 Manchester City manager's Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini won the title. Not long later they were sacked. In 2015 Jose Mourinho won the league with Chelsea. Not long later he was sacked. That's four examples from just the last few years, and the odd years were when those very same manager's had experienced the downturn. 

Football owners got to learn sometime. For their own good investment - if they dig into their pockets. They don't understand the concept that sometimes you got to take a step backward to move forward. It's all about proper education in football. About 15 years ago I was reading about Rafa Benitez's time at Valencia. He had incredibly wrestled the powers that be, Real Madrid and Barcelona by winning the La Liga title in 2001-2002.

I read in interviews (and later in his book) about how he expected Valencia to struggle the next season. They did. The champions of Spain finished fifth. Despite their fall from grace and moving into the Uefa Cup, the Valencia board kept faith because midst all the tremendous pressure, they understood the game. Next season Valencia won the league again, proving that it was no fluke against Real Madrid and Barcelona. Benitez also won the Uefa Cup that season. I am not going to write a whole lesson here, but if one reads books about how teams evolve through seasons, then one can realise the patterns here. It should be essential reading for those who run clubs.

Talking about Benitez, there were many who were surprised that he went from Real Madrid to Newcastle United, even staying with them in the Championship. I wasn't. I knew what he wants to build there. United needed to take a step back to move forward. This is true work in coaching. It's not about flavour of the month management, which is a problem of managerial perception in England (and other countries too). 

Likewise, from 50 years of football, Leicester City's been in and out of the top flight about half the time. That is their reality. Fighting for survival is what Leicester's about. They never had the players to demand even being in Uefa spots regularly. Last season's title triumph was an incredible one-off achievement. With the players basking in the limelight of that glory, they don't even have the experience of contending with such lofty heights the season after. Add to that burden, Champions League football in midweek, I could see the disaster coming. A wise owner would keep Ranieri in there no matter what happened this season, because they would surely rebuild a season later. For that you need vision.

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Many pundits are crying for Ranieri after his dismissal, but I'm not sad for him because he will find better jobs (if he wants them right now). Better owners. Better support. I'm sad for Leicester City, the club and the fans. They are the real losers in the sacking of Ranieri. By sacking the greatest legend, they are now like any other run of the mill relegation scrapping club. That became clear to me when I was reading the favourites to takeover from Claudio. I can envision they will be in this same scenario over and again like Eternal Sunshine. Bring on your Sam Allardyce's and Tony Pulis' survival guides! They don't step back to move forward. They stay still in the Premier League and that's why English football isn't moving forward yet. 

We see it happening in the relegation zone each year. We've seen it at the top of the table and let me tell you where else. From all title contenders, the one club that's starved of league titles in over two decades, is Liverpool. Three times they came the closest with Gerard Houllier, Benitez and Brendan Rodgers finishing runners up. Those were their best Premier League seasons. Not long after each of those, those manager's were sacked. So, it's happened after second spot too.

Don't erase your memories. This is not a new phenomenon before you. Everybody's got to learn sometime .

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