Practicality wins out over sentimentality
Leicester's poor form leads to Ranieri sacking
History is littered with dispassionate sackings of successful coaches
The fairytale is over.
Less than nine months after defying all the odds – literally, the longest odds that British bookmakers could offer at 5,000-1 – Claudio Ranieri, mastermind of arguably the most improbable title challenge that football has ever seen, has been sacked by last season’s Premier League champion, Leicester City.
“Domestic results in the current campaign have placed the club’s Premier League status under threat and the board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the club’s greatest interest,” the club said in a statement.
It isn’t the first time that the cold hand of pragmatism has snuffed out a feelgood managerial tale. So what are some of sport’s cruelest firings?
Jose Mourinho – Chelsea
Young upstart manager Jose Mourinho brought the nouveau riche Chelsea its first league title in 50 years when the “Special One” breezed into town in 2004, but three years later things had soured and the Portuguese coach left the club “by mutual consent.”
Lightning struck twice with Jose and his erstwhile employer – upon his successful return to Stamford Bridge in 2013 he was again axed by Chelsea last season after winning the league the season before.
An honorable mention also goes to Roberto di Matteo, former club legend who took over midseason in 2011 to guide Chelsea to its first ever European Champions League title, along with the FA Cup that year, only to find himself out of a job six months after the streamers had been cleared off the pitch.
Vicente Del Bosque – Real Madrid
Ex-playing legend Vicente del Bosque coached Real from 1999 to 2003, arguably the club’s most successful spell in the modern era. During his tenure he won the Champions League twice, alongside a trophy haul that included two Liga titles, a European Super Cup and a World Club Cup.
But he was unceremoniously dumped by a president who saw his expensively assembled “galactico” team as the real reason for Real’s success.
Since being cast adrift, Del Bosque took the Spanish national team on an unprecedented run of success, winning a World Cup and back-to-back European Championships.
It’s not like he couldn’t see his treatment in Madrid coming, with Los Merengues having plenty of previous experience with dispassionate sackings – just before appointing Del Bosque the board had fired Jupp Heynckes just eight days after winning Real’s first European Cup in 32 years.
Joe Girardi – Florida Marlins
Joe Girardi’s career in Florida was going great – until his run-in with owner Jeffrey Loria, which boiled over after the manager took umbrage at his boss’ yelling at umpires.
“Joe is not returning because it was not a good fit,” GM Larry Beinfest insisted, although most pundits pointed to the rift between owner and manager.
Revenge was sweet for Girardi, however, who moved to the Yankees the following season, winning the World Series in 2009. To date he remains with the serially successful Bronx club.
Tom Landry – Dallas Cowboys
Legendary coach Tom Landry made the Dallas Cowboys “America’s Team,” winning two Super Bowls and appearing in three more.
He spent almost 30 years in Texas, and while his final years saw a steady decline, when new owner Jerry Jones fired him – with no warning, no prior discussion – it was and still is seen as a shocking move.
Larry Brown – Detroit Pistons
Larry Brown took the Pistons to a surprise title in 2003-04 and made the NBA Finals again the next year … and then the team effectively fired him days later by buying out the rest of his contract.
He then spent just one unsuccessful season with New York Knicks, and departed Charlotte Bobcats midway into his second campaign in charge.
Yogi Berra – New York Yankees
In 1964, after Yankees’ legend Yogi Berra had hung up his catcher’s mitt, he transitioned to the position of manager with the team. But he couldn’t keep the respect of the locker room and for much of the season the sword of Damocles dangled above his head.
But against the odds he took the team all the way to the World Series, staving off the inevitable – but defeat on baseball’s biggest stage cost him his job – a Yankees legend cast aside.
After getting the chop he went across town to the rival Mets and coached there from 1972 to 1975, leading the 1973 team to the National League pennant.
CNN’s Ravi Hiranand contributed to this story