Jose Mourinho says the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri is “very, very difficult to accept” and believes the Italian deserved to have Leicester’s stadium named after him rather than the sack.
The Manchester United boss, who wore a shirt bearing Ranieri’s initials as a mark of his respect at his Friday press conference, believes the Foxes boss was let down by the “selfishness” of others.
Less than 10 months on from shocking the football world by becoming Premier League champions, the Leicester board brought Ranieri’s historic reign to an abrupt end on Thursday night.
Ranieri paid for Leicester’s poor form and apparent dressing room unrest, with much of the football world uniting in support of the outgoing manager.
Mourinho’s relationship with the Italian has been fraught at times over the years, but he followed up an Instagram tribute to Ranieri with further warm words on Friday, and described his own sacking by Chelsea in December 2015 – again just months after winning a league title – as “peanuts” by comparison.
Speaking about the initialled shirt, Mourinho said: “It is my little homage to somebody that wrote the most beautiful history of the Premier League.
“Somebody that probably would deserve the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri’ – and he is sacked. So I think Leicester made history two years in a row.
“One year because they did the most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of the most beautiful histories in football history.
“And now they are also in the highlights with the decision that I think has everyone in football united because it is something very, very difficult to accept.
“But at the same time, it is good for all of us to realise how football is at the time and we need to adapt to it.”
A lovely sentiment, Jose. But what about this?
Jose Mourinho has changed his tune on Ranieri…
2017 v 2008: pic.twitter.com/VWnmwA2x5z
— Evan Bartlett (@ev_bartlett) February 24, 2017
“I thought last season when I was sacked as a champion, I thought it was a giant negative thing. Now I realise it was peanuts compared with what happened to Claudio.
“So my Instagram (message) was a little homage, my shirt is another one and I don’t think he needs more homages because nobody can delete what he did.
“And if some of the stories that I am reading are true (about a player revolt against Ranieri) or have just a little bit of truth, it is difficult to find words to justify that but it is also something we managers we have to cope with.”