Sorry, Claudio

It’s not clear who should be apologising to the man who led the greatest sporting story in history, but there are a few candidates.

Our favourite Penfold lookalike has certainly played a part in the death of his own dream, but for him to be singularly punished now when the collective were happy to take credit while things were going well, is grossly unfair and exposes the rank footballing core that he had managed to conceal.

As I’m writing this the same Leicester side that have been playing like wet blankets all season suddenly decided that they, in fact, can play with intensity and comfortably beat Liverpool 3–1 to move out of the relegation zone.

As a Leicester fan I was happy to see them play like they did throughout last season, but why has it taken the sacking of the manager that perfected their counter-attacking style, for them to return to it?

The words of senior players might well have shoved the knife in Ranieri’s back, but their own boring performances first forged the blade.

I’ve had so many debates about what has specifically changed and you’ll hear the same sort of arguments being regularly thrown around the pub.

“Surely Kante can’t have made such a difference… they’ve all got too much money now… Huth and Morgan are past it… other teams have worked them out…”

It’s difficult to prove or disprove any of this amateur punditry — I’m not saying that professional pundits have anything meaningful to add mind you— but we’ve all witnessed an undeniable, if confusing, plunge in team performance.

I’ve always found it odd that managers or head coaches are the first variable that the media and owners look to when a formula isn’t solving — sorry if my algebra analogy is wrong — seemingly ignoring individual player’s agency to sort out their own performance.

Social media tributes to Claudio are nice but a damn safe option. A fitting tribute would be a genuine apology from every player — Demarai Gray perhaps excluded.

The media were almost unanimous in their utter distaste towards Ranieri’s dismissal but I don’t believe they have justified their position on the highest of horses.

When talking about media here I’m mainly referring to the corps of ex-players that cover English football, but also the larger marketing or reporting approach of outlets like Sky Sports.

Every media organisation will strive to find an angle that is not only truthful, but will make them the most money. Many will say news should not be created with the intent to make cash, but with slimy pricks like Rupert Murdoch in charge (he owns Sky and The Times yet that paper sponsors Sky Sports News — how does that work?) there is always going to be an orientation towards maximising profit.

Last season everyone wanted to hear and read about dilly-ding dilly-dong and clean sheet pizza. This season we’ve gorged ourselves on how Ranieri’s banning of chicken burgers has led to him losing the dressing room. And now we wait to see who’s next up to the podium to express how upset they are about the Italian’s removal.

Every outlet has a responsibility to report both positive and negative aspects of any story, yet I personally believe the media get so committed to a profitable line of reporting that they may ignore something which could contradict their broader narrative.

It’s an area where I find myself agreeing with the Trumpster. His bans of media and loose use of facts are laughable, but he’s correct when he says much of the mainstream media don’t report potentially positive things he is doing. Sad.

They have an agenda to fulfil and we should be aware that there is a financial motivation behind Sky Sports’ sensational coverage — I’ll mainly talk about them as they’re the best at it.

Dramatic music, images of exasperated players and snippets of catchy commentary are common elements you see in any of Sky’s promotional material. It works perfectly to sell a feeling that you could only possibly experience if you tune into their programming.

If they tell us Leicester are in crisis and they package that message attractively, we’re very quick to believe that that’s the final say in the matter.

There might not have been a direct intention to get Claudio sacked, but the media must acknowledge that their practices can influence how people think.

It makes their hatred of the state of football disingenuous when they have been the driving force behind creating the corporate monstrosity that is our national sport today.

For a while I believed that Leicester’s Thai owners were going to resist the typical behaviour that the corporate monstrosity perpetuates. I even wrote a piece praising them for being different to Vincent Tan or Mike Ashley and for wiping out the club’s £103 million debt.

A couple of weeks after giving Ranieri their “unwavering support”, they humiliated him by giving him the boot.

It showed they were no different to any other owner.

It gave me a similar feeling to when Man United fired David Moyes. There was always a perception that they were a club who would give managers time to lead a long-term vision, yet that was comprehensively abandoned when Sir Alex’s successor was replaced by Louis van Gaal.

I hoped Leicester’s success would give Ranieri an assurance to further build a club identity that wasn’t based upon success at all costs, but where there was an active effort to subvert the soulless way many clubs are run.

Ranieri’s lightness and slightly broken turn of phrase was the embodiment of that identity I felt was being created and now he’s gone, I fear the club will become just like everybody else.

It’s sad that money and league position will always come before an ethos contravening what the biggest clubs do. The fact that Ranieri maintained his dignity while football’s impatience took its latest victim means he is at least due an apology from those who have prevented him showing us what football could be like.

We all play a part in creating the conditions that mean the good guys in football never win. I have been complaining about Sky Sports’ coverage but realistically I’ll still watch Jamie Redknapp and Thierry Henry posture in their finest suits while coming up with rather obvious analysis.

So, I apologise to you Mr Ranieri.

We all despair at football’s continually deforming body yet for one season you made us all forget what a cynical shit of a sport it really is.