Belfast Telegraph

Jurgen Klopp baffled by Leicester decision to axe Claudio Ranieri

Jurgen Klopp has compared the sacking of Premier League winning manager Claudio Ranieri to Brexit and Donald Trump's election as US president.

The Italian was shown the door at Leicester only nine months after masterminding one of sport's greatest stories and his departure has been met with shock and sadness.

Leicester play their first match without Ranieri against Liverpool in the Premier League on Monday.

Reds boss Klopp said: "What can I say? Am I surprised that things like this can happen? No. It is not only football.

"For me there have been a few strange decisions in 16/17: Brexit, Trump, Ranieri. Do I have to understand it all the time - obviously not. I have no idea why Leicester did this.

"He is a really special person in this business, a really nice guy. I met him before when he visited me at Dortmund and we had a nice talk. He is a wonderful person."

Antonio Conte, a good friend of Ranieri and one of his successors as manager of Chelsea, expressed his disappointment at the decision and will offer his countryman support.

Conte said: " I'm very, very sad, because this is our job and for sure I'm disappointed for him. First, he's a friend. He's a really good man. And he's a really good manager. He reached a dream to win the title.

"I understand the situation. I understand his frustration. For sure I'll call him. It's natural after this type of situation to talk and to show him also my disappointment for this decision."

Gary Lineker has revealed Leicester's "inexplicable" decision 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.

Foxes fan and former player 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 to 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.

"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.

"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."

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said Ranieri's dismissal was symptomatic of "the new football".

Mourinho experienced similar treatment at Chelsea. He led the London club to the 2014-15 title, but was dismissed in December 2015 after a series of dreadful results and what was described as "palpable discord" with his players by technical director Michael Emenalo.

The Portuguese, who succeeded Ranieri at Stamford Bridge when his first spell at the club began in 2004, clearly sees the Italian's exit as further proof of how ruthless football has become at the highest level.

He posted a picture of himself and Ranieri smiling, and wrote on Instagram: "Champion of England and FIFA manager of the year. Sacked. That's the new football. Keep smiling amico. Nobody can delete the history you wrote."

However, former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who won the Second Division title in an eight-year spell with Leicester, said the club's struggles this season made Ranieri's departure understandable and praised those in charge for taking a "brave" decision.

He said on Radio 4: "G oing down would be a disaster for Leicester and I suppose the board have made a very brave decision. Some people have mixed views, but relegation is on the horizon.

"If they stay in the Premier League then they've made the right decision. A lot of people will say there's no sentiment in football, look at what he's done for the club... but he's had a lot of the season to get things going."

Former Leicester defender Matt Elliott does not feel player power would have been the decisive factor but believes the squad need to take their share of the blame.

He told Sky Sports News: " I think the players have to be accountable as much as Ranieri. The manager always takes the brunt of things but it's too simplistic to say Ranieri can't get a tune out of the players this year, he's the reason we need to make a change.

"I think the reason the change has been made is because he's the only change that can be made. You can drop players but you can't just sack them.

"It does make you think the rumblings of discontent within the squad, the rumours that were going around, had some substance.

"I'd be surprised that the owners would take too much notice from players. I think they would take it on board but they would have their own way of thinking as well.

"As professional players you need to get together and get behind the manager, irrespective of what you think of him. I don't think Leicester players have always done that."

Conte would struggle to accept it if it did turn out Leicester's players effectively forced Ranieri out.

The Chelsea boss said: "It's not right that the players decide if a manager must be sacked or not. If this happened, it means that the club is poor, without power.

"I don't believe in this, I don't trust in this. I don't want to listen to this type of story. It's frustrating for a manager, also to imagine that the players can decide your destiny."

John Terry, who played under Ranieri at Chelsea, wrote on Instagram: "Absolutely gutted for Claudio. A great man, manager and friend."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has no doubt Ranieri will be back in management very soon.

"He'll get jobs because of what he has done, not only at Leicester but previously as well," said the Welshman.

"He is quite prepared to go all over the world and go where the work is. I don't anticipate he'll be out of work too long."

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