Saturday, March 4, 2017

It was a shame: Alan Shearer on Claudio Ranieri sacking

Former Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri (right) looks on as his players converse during a FA Cup tie vs Derby City recently. pic/Getty Images
Former Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri (right) looks on as his players converse during a FA Cup tie vs Derby City recently. pic/Getty Images

Claudio Ranieri’s fairytale at Leicester City came to an ignominious end 298 days after the Italian manager led the Foxes to maiden English Premier League (EPL) glory. Suddenly, as he said, his “dream died.”

The move by the owners was galling after the club was struggling to come to terms with its 5,000-1 triumph in the 2016-17 season. Many managers and former EPL veterans expressed their solidarity with the 65-year-old since the announcement was made.

Former England and Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer joined the chorus of voices to heavily criticise the sacking. “I was really surprised. It was terribly disappointing. I thought because of what he and the team achieved, he should have been given the opportunity to stay longer and turn it around,” Shearer, the Premier League’s highest goal-scorer with 260 strikes, said during a round-table interaction on the sidelines of ‘The Football Movement’ conference yesterday.

Reports suggested that Leicester’s senior players had a lot to do with Ranier’s permanent send off. Although some of them such as striker Jamie Vardy and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel denied any involvement, Shearer, who currently works as a football pundit for BBC, said that he didn’t need the sacking of Ranieri to tell him that the players were not with their manager.

“I could see it three or four months ago that they weren’t putting the same amount of effort as they were last season. It was plainly obvious that something had gone on in that Leicester dressing room where the players and the manager were falling out. They lost respect for him. They weren’t running. The stats tell you that the players didn’t want him, which was a big shame,” he explained.

Contrastingly, the scene for Leicester radically changed in their first match against Liverpool post-Ranieri era. The defending champs crushed the Reds 3-1. “It was amazing how the story changed. The Liverpool game tells everyone that,” Shearer pointed out.

Ex-England player Alan Shearer.­ Pic/ Sameer Markande
Ex-England player Alan Shearer.­ Pic/ Sameer Markande

The Raneri sacking highlights how vulnerable managers are these days. “You don’t get as much time to build a team as a manager any more. If you are a manager, you have to get results. If you don’t like that, then don’t get into it. We can’t complain. If you decide to take that route, you are bound to get sacked at some stage in your career,” Shearer, who was also the Magpies manager during a disastrous 2008-09 season, admitted.

When it comes to displaying your performance, the players have the upper hand vis-a-vis the managers. “It’s unfortunate that you can’t fight with the squad. So someone has to take the rap and it’s always the manager. Players have got a lot of power because they are backed with huge contracts, but I’d like to see a fair balance. You can’t fire 20 players, but you can fire the one guy and that’s the manager,” he said, revealing that it would take something really special for him to go down the ‘manager’ lane again.

Baffling to see players heading to China in their prime: Shearer

The Chinese Super League has hogged most of the spotlight in the recent months, not for its fanfare, but for the amount of money clubs are splurging on signing players.

Chelsea midfielder Oscar gave up bench-warming at Stamford Bridge to seal a £52m deal with Shanghai SIPG. Argentine veteran Carlos Tevez too followed suit, moving to Shanghai Shenhua for an eye-popping £71m.

Premier League legend Alan Shearer, who was the world’s most expensive footballer in 1996 after his £15m switch from Blackburn to Newcastle United, feels the outrageous amount of money spent on players, leaves very little loyalty to the game. “Football is a business, that’s the way you have to look at it,” he said.

Star players shifting their focus to money was also a move that didn’t go down well with him. “I wouldn’t understand a professional player in his prime going to China for the money. But for me, no, you would rather want to play in the best league in the world and against the best players in the best competition,” he explained.

And will China be able to pay the surmounting wages to their stars on the field? “I find it difficult to understand how they will do that,” Shearer added.

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