Premier League champions Leicester City has dismissed club manager Claudio Ranieri.
Ranieri was informed of the decision on his return from the club’s Champions League last-16 tie against Sevilla.
This came after nine months of the Italian’s leadership success, where he led a team of 5,000-1 outsiders to the Premier League title.
It also came barely two weeks after Leicester offered him their “unwavering support” in a statement insisting there was no way his job could be in danger and pointing out that the club’s success had been “based firmly on stability, togetherness and determination to overcome even the greatest of challenges”.
“This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years,” a statement from the club’s vice-chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, said. “But we are duty-bound to put the club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be.”
“We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve. It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target. But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”
Leicester won their first ever title by 10 points last season but have won just five top-flight games this season. The midlands club also lost their past five league matches and are the only side in the top four English divisions without a goal in the Premier League since the turn of the year.
Sitting a place and a point above the relegation zone, the Foxes will next host Liverpool, where defeat could see them fall into the ranks of the Premier League last three, and possibly become the first Premier League champion to suffer relegation since 1938.
Leicester City 0 — 2 Liverpool