By Paul Newberry, AP
These are ugly times at Leicester.
The team heads into the weekend with a new, temporary manager and barely above the relegation zone in the English Premier League, seemingly doing everything it can to eradicate whatever good vibes are left from its inspiring run to the championship just nine months ago.
But despite all the outrage over the ridiculous firing of Claudio Ranieri, Leicester’s place in sporting history is secure.
In the years and decades and centuries to come, we’ll barely remember how it all fell apart so quickly for Ranieri and this team.
Or even care.
“I don’t think it taints his story at all,” Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said. “He is still the manager that led them to the league and he will always be remembered for that historic achievement and rightly so.”
None of this should be surprising. The Premier League has always been dominated by a small of group of big-spending teams, and they’ve predictably risen back to the top of the table.
If Leicester had somehow remained a title contender this season, it might’ve taken some of the gloss off its glorious romp to the top as a 5,000-to-1 longshot.
Now, with the team in disarray and ownership deciding to dump the manager who made it all possible, we can truly appreciate what the Foxes accomplished: one of the most improbable triumphs in the history of sports.
“The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever,” Ranieri said in a statement Friday, singling out the club’s supporters. “No one can ever take away what we together have achieved, and I hope you think about it and smile every day, the way I always will. It was a time of wonderfulness and happiness that I will never forget.”
What we’re seeing at the moment is just another example of the instant-gratification, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? world that we live in.
That’s not meant to let Leicester’s ownership off the hook for its buffoonish decision to fire Ranieri, who certainly had earned the right to keep running the team at least through the end of the season, no matter how bad things got.
For that matter, Ranieri deserved a shot at leading Leicester back to the Premier League even if the team got relegated to the second division as one of the three lowest-finishing teams. They are currently 17th in the 20-team league, just one point ahead of the relegation zone.