Gary Lineker has revealed Leicester’s “inexplicable” decision to sack title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri reduced him to tears.
The former England striker claimed the Italian’s dismissal was a panic-driven move which showed a staggering “lack of gratitude”, tarnished the most incredible of Premier League triumphs and would harm the image of Leicester around the world.
Ranieri was dismissed on Thursday night with the Foxes just one point above the relegation zone, having defied odds of 5000-1 to land the championship last May.
Foxes fan Lineker said on Radio 4: “For me I shed a tear last night. I shed a tear for Claudio, I shed for football and I shed a tear for my club.
“I just think it’s inexplicable to me and it’s inexplicable I think a lot of football fans who love the game, but I suppose in some ways you can explain it in terms of a panic decision. And for me a wrong decision and it’s very sad.”
He added: “It’s a sign of modern football. What happened last season was pretty extraordinary under Claudio Ranieri and I think the lack of gratitude from the owners of the club – and who knows who else is involved in such a decision – beggars belief.
“Yes, in recent times we’ve seen a few managers lose their clubs after winning the Premier League, but they were mangers of clubs that expect to win titles and spend enough money on their clubs, so I suppose they can justify that and we see it at the big clubs in the world, the Real Madrids etc.
“But for a club like Leicester to win the league last season and the magnificence of that story and the likeability of the club, especially under Claudio Ranieri, the ultimate gentleman, it kind of demeans the club, it takes away from the glory of last season.
After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 23, 2017
“Whereas Leicester were hugely popular with everyone right around the world, to do something like this now I think loses a lot of that popularity.”
Asked if the decision to dispense with Ranieri tarnished the title win, Lineker added: “I think it does to a degree. That season will remain with us forever and it was truly special and a lot of that was of course down to the management. The same guy cannot now be considered incapable of doing his job just a few months later, having achieved what was for me the biggest miracle in team sport.”
Reports have claimed that Ranieri had lost the support of some of his senior players
“I would hope it’s not true because I think that would have been a betrayal,” Lineker said.