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    Survival over sentiment. Will Leicester’s decision pay off and who is in line to replace Ranieri?

    The sacking of Claudio Ranieri last week was met with a generally negative response. The likeable Italian has a wealth of experience in the game and Leicester’s title win will remain one of the greatest achievements in English football history. However, the Foxes were falling with little signs of life. The decision may have been unpopular but, based on recent Premier League history, it could turn out to be the right one, if a little harsh at the moment.

    Earlier today, Leicester grabbed a huge 3 points against Hull City. Ignoring this result, the Tigers are much improved since they appointed Marco Silva and are testament to what can happen when a new manager is appointed. They look a solid outfit now, having conceded only six goals in six games before today compared to a staggering 44 goals in 20 under Mike Phelan. A managerial change can breathe new life into a team and Leicester, like Hull, were desperate having not won since New Year’s Eve. In the past few years this theory has been proven on several occasions, especially by Sunderland who seem to continually survive having appointed a new manager mid-way through the season when seemingly destined for the drop. Crystal Palace opted for a similar approach in 2013, when Tony Pulis took the reins and steered the eagles to a mid-table finish having taken over with them in 19th place. Leicester are undoubtedly in a scrap this season and therefore a managerial change is not something that should be dismissed as a knee-jerk reaction. The results against Liverpool and Hull prove this.

    Marco Silva's appointment has given Hull City a fighting chance of survival

    Despite this, I personally feel that Ranieri’s dismissal would’ve been more justified had Leicester been battered by Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League Last 16. Coming away from Spain still in the tie against a side pushing Real Madrid and Barcelona all the way in La Liga is no mean feat. There were some encouraging signs from the game as well, as there have been from the Foxes’ Champions League performances on the whole. One of the key reasons for this, it could be argued, is that foreign sides haven’t have cracked Leicester’s counter attacking system in the way that Premier League teams have. This may suggest that their form hasn’t dipped solely because of their performances but also because of how opposition sides set up against them.

    Jamie Vardy scored a vital goal in Spain last week

    Although this is an outlandish claim, and Leicester should’ve accommodated better to it, it would be valid to say that the league has certainly improved this season. The entire top 10 has strengthened markedly, with the likes of particularly Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and West Brom to name a few having better seasons this time around. Leicester have been weakened by the likes of N’Golo Kanté leaving and Riyad Mahrez, Wes Morgan and Jamie Vardy losing form but, when looking at the bigger picture, their collapse is perhaps a little less surprising. It’s easy to forget that, bar an incredible turn of form in the last few months of the season, Leicester could’ve been relegated in 2015. Christian Fuchs, Shinji Okazaki, Demarai Gray and Kanté were the only notable additions that summer so the bulk of the side which won the league last season were dubbed by many as relegation fodder as late as February 2015. This highlights how incredible an achievement last season was but also suggests that maybe we’re expecting a little too much from them?

    Who’s in the Running to Replace Ranieri?
    Regardless of whether Ranieri’s dismissal was justified or not, the fact of the matter is that Leicester have got 10 games left to steer clear of trouble. At the moment, the likes of Nigel Pearson, Roberto Mancini and Roy Hodgson have all been touted as potential new managers. It should also be mentioned that Craig Shakespeare has done an excellent job so far and may well be in the running. Pearson orchestrated an incredible escape with effectively the same squad that would be at his disposal just two seasons ago. He has the experience of a relegation scrap and is a favourite among many of the players. A controversial figure, it may however be seen as hypocritical to appoint the man who they dismissed in controversial circumstances to appoint Ranieri. If the Foxes are looking for a long-term solution they may have to look elsewhere but, in a relegation battle, Leicester need someone up for the fight.

    Nigel Pearson: Controversial but effective?

    Before he took the national team job, Roy Hodgson was one of the most experienced and well respected English managers, transforming West Brom and Fulham into strong mid table sides. He took over when both were staring a relegation battle in the face so, like Pearson, he’s been there and done it when it matters. Unfortunately, his spell as England manager may have tarnished his reputation too much for him to land the job. English football has also changed massively since he last managed in the Premier League (2012) and it may take him a few games to acclimatise. As previously mentioned, Leicester need immediate success and can’t afford to go through the period of transition that may come with Hodgson.
    Does Hodgson deserve another crack in the Premier League?
    Roberto Mancini may not have the experience of the previous two when it comes to relegation battles in the Premier League, but he has the kind of fiery character that would potentially prove vital. This would be different to any job that he has had before after spells in Italy with Inter and an admittedly cash strapped but talented Lazio side. However, he has proven that he can cut it in the Premier League with a successful spell at Manchester City just under four years ago. He had a loan spell in the midlands towards the end of his career and is remembered fondly at the King Power, but it would still be a major (and unlikely) coup if they landed him as manager. It would be a risk if it did happen, but it might work out in both the short and long term with a manager like Mancini used to performing in big games in both the Premier League and on the European stage. The appointment would be make or break for all concerned.
    Could Mancini be returning to the Premier League?
    Overall, Leicester’s plight is one that is not entirely down to Ranieri but, as modern day football proves time and time again, the managers are always the first to go if the results drop. Whoever comes in to replace the Italian, such as the three potential frontrunners mentioned, will have a tough job on their hands but one that is still an appetising prospect. Survival is the first aim but, if this is achieved, who knows what the Leicester soap opera will have in store for us next.
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    Item Reviewed: Survival over sentiment. Will Leicester’s decision pay off and who is in line to replace Ranieri? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: George Kelsey
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