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I really should have posted this earlier in the week, if only to break up the endless talk about Rooney and Lukaku. Still, I feel I have to put this out there.
Reading the media reports over the past few weeks, anyone would think the Leicester players had jumped Ranieri in the dressing room and beaten him to death, or framed him for a similar crime.
“Betrayal” “they should be ashamed of themselves” “how can they live with themselves/look at themselves in the mirror” “stabbed him in the back” etcTheir transgression seems to have been not kicking a ball around as well as they did the previous season. Oh the horror.
One thing that it has highlighted, though, in my opinion, is the rank hypocrisy and true colours of the media, in particular, ex-players of Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool, who’ve burrowed in to the press to tell everyone else what to think. While they seemed to grudgingly applaud Leicester’s efforts last season, their resentment towards their players now borders on the deranged.
Take, for example, the portrayal of Craig Shakespeare as, in his own words, some kind of pantomime villain. Martin Keown is quoted as saying he’s “out of order” for wanting the managers’ job on a permanent basis. While I no longer waste my time watching MotD, I’ve heard he actually called him a “snake”. Presumably, having been on the backroom staff for years, well before the arrival of Ranieri, Mr Shakespeare was expected to storm out of the club in disgust at the Italian’s sacking and reject any overtures from the owners to take the reigns.
As it’s my first TW article, I think some Liverpool bashing so go down well, so let's go back to January 2011. I seem to remember the sacking of Roy Hodgson and the appointment of Kenny Dalglish being announced in the same statement, both decisions seeming to have been made in one fell swoop. Kenny would have been a part of the club’s set-up during the ill-fated Hodgson era. I don’t remember him coming in for any criticism at all for swooping in and taking Roy Hodgson’s job. Well, can you imagine one of the many ex-rs MotD pundits calling their mate Kenny a “snake”?! They wouldn’t dare.
And who was a part of this Liverpool team who were under-performing during that half season with Hodgson. Ah yes, Jamie Carragher. This would be the same Jamie Carragher who used his newspaper column to blast the Leicester players for, erm, under-performing this season and getting poor Claudio the boot. He was also apoplectic about an alleged summit meeting by the players with the owners, a completely unsubstantiated story that everyone seems to have taken as an indisputable fact.
For a more recent example, Chelsea’s players are widely considered to have downed tools under Mourinho last season. This would be the manager who led them to the title the year before. Just like Ranieri. And yet no-one in the media seemed to mind. The consensus seemed to be “well no-one likes Mourinho so it’s okay”. In fact, the only criticism of Chelsea’s players seemed to come from their own fans, and after a couple of wins, all seemed to be forgiven. With Leicester, the opposite seems to be happening. The more they win post Ranieri, the more “disgraceful” their players are for not winning sooner.
This often happens when a club changes manager. That’s why clubs change managers – in the hope of an improvement in results. How much better have Hull and Swansea been in recent weeks? I don’t hear any pundits or journalists talking about how those immoral players weren’t giving their all for Mike Phelan or Bob Bradley.And can you imagine if one of the media darling managers, like, say, Harry Redknapp had taken over a struggling club and won two out of two. The press would be cooing and fawning over how he’d rejuvenated the players and injected new life in to the club.
But because it’s an unknown member of the backroom staff and an unglamorous group of players, it’s seen as some kind of rebellious coup to get loveable old Claudio ousted.
Long story short, the problem isn’t that a group of players have put in some below par performances for one manager and found winning ways again after a change. If it was, every club in the league would have been slated down the years. No. The problem seems to be that Leicester’s players have done it.
I get the impression that ex-Sky 4 players whose own clubs haven’t been able to win the league in recent years, and better still ex-pros who failed to win the league themselves, resent the fact that Leicester’s players now hold Premier League Winners medals. While they reluctantly admired their efforts last season, they can’t resist the chance to rip in to them now.
You can just see their rationalisation: “Well they might have league winners medals, but they must be bad people. I mean, just look how they decided to stop performing for their manager. You’d never catch me or anyone at my club doing that….”
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