February 28 – There’s nothing like a barrage of criticism to fire up an under-performing team. No sooner had Claudio Ranieri been sacked as manager of Premier League champions Leicester City than his former players – many of whom had been accused of letting down the Italian – bounced back in style on Monday on an emotional night.
Ranieri, who masterminded arguably the greatest miracle in team sport only nine months ago, was reportedly back in Italy with his grandson when his now ex-team fought their way out of the relegation zone with a 3-1 win over Liverpool.
One of the most eagerly awaited fixtures in weeks produced a Leicester performance with all the fighting spirit of last season, but which had been sorely missing this term. Ranieri may not have been there in person but he was given a rapturous tribute as fans wore Ranieri masks and displayed a sea of banners.
On the pitch, the sense of sporting loss for their departed manager gave way to a vibrant display as Leicester’s players, who had denied falling out with Ranieri, swept Liverpool aside under caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare who now looks likely to be handed the job at least until the end of the season.
“There has been a lot of unfair stuff written and you’ve seen a reaction from everyone,” said Leicester’s England striker Jamie Vardy. “It definitely got us fired up in a good way to put in a reaction on the pitch.”
Maybe so, but the question still remains as to why has it took the departure of the manager for the team to perform in the manner they did.
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