Well, that was unexpected. Or was the writing on the wall?
Yesterday afternoon, rumours going around the footballing world were that Craig Shakespeare had been relived of his duties as Leicester City manager. After many reports, articles, you name it, the club confirmed those rumours and a change in management had taken place. The 53-year-old departed after just 21 games at the helm, winning just eight.
You have to feel sorry for him. I know results weren’t the best, and performances were always there or thereabouts, but in reality, Leicester’s issues lie much deeper than this, and Mr. Shakespeare was ultimately the scapegoat for a truly awful few months in the East Midlands.
Going from Premier League Champions 17 months ago, to living life in the bottom three more recently. What has changed? How has this decline occurred?
Let’s go from the start shall we…
A team of champions, players who fought for the cause week in week out under Saint Claudio Ranieri as he’s known in Leicester, a King Power Stadium full of belief, happiness and emotion. That seems so long ago, considering the direction the club is heading as of right now.
Shakespeare took over after Ranieri’s sacking, with the help of goalkeeping coach Mike Stowell. He ended up winning his first four games in charge. As you can imagine, social media took full control of the situation, and I genuinely think that the snake emoji was the most used emoji in history at that point. I’d never seen so much hate towards a caretaker manager in my life; Craig ‘Snakespeare’ as he was commonly referred to as.
I was a happy Leicester fan though, solely based on the months of short lived success Craig Shakespeare was able to bring. He was the captain of operation ‘steady the ship’, and guided sinking Leicester City away from the murky waters of the Sky Bet Championship. I remember saying to myself: “I want him to get it full time.”
And low and behold, my wish was granted by the powers that be at the club. Craig Shakespeare was appointed as permanent manager. Unfortunately, there were still questions marks surrounding the appointment, with fans still not satisfied. There’s a saying in life that you can’t please everyone, and that seemed fitting for this.
This season, I think fans were optimistic about achieving something whether that be a good cup run, top 10 finish, whatever. All that mattered was that the club put Claudio Ranieri behind them, and give Shakespeare a chance to prove himself.
He’d been at the club for nine years in total and knew the ins and outs of the club like the back of his hand. Although, most people didn’t see it that way. They saw a man with no credentials, no experience at the pinnacle of coaching, and was always ‘behind the scenes’ as such.
Later on down the line, those doubters were eventually proved right.
One win in nine this season, six points from a possible 24, signalled the end of the road and forced the owners’ hand. This was the main reason of course, football is a results-driven business and extremely cut-throat. But I tell you what, the board don’t scatter themselves in glory do they?
Awful recruitment in terms of Adrien Silva, a lack of strategy it seemed, and they paid the price. Danny Drinkwater, arguably the best player in the team at that point, was sold to Chelsea. We all know the story, I don’t need to go into that.
But this led to a domino effect on the club, with negativity spreading from top to bottom; The mentality had changed, the thoughts and feeling towards the football club had changed, and had become slightly toxic if you ask me. A line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet seems about right here: ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
What’s funny that some of you readers won’t realise, is that the players weren’t actually told of the decision, and supposedly found out via social media and sports media outlets. Leading on from that, Craig Shakespeare actually took charge of a behind-closed-door friendly against Nottingham Forest, and following the full time whistle at 1pm, was then ask to go to the meeting that ended his managerial reign.
A shambles if you ask me!
What does it mean for this weekend?
Well it’s all change. Michael Appleton will take temporary charge, alongside him will be Mike Stowell as usual. Swansea are starting to look really good, with Tammy Abraham getting into his rhythm now. This is such a tough game, and has a lot riding on it. Another defeat will seriously start to concern me; we’re already two points off safety in 18th!
A win however, will hopefully spark something. We need to get going, and get going quickly. As usual, my stats piece will be up on BFTGT Friday afternoon on Swansea vs Leicester, so look forward to that.
One last thing before I finish up…
Thank you Craig Shakespeare for everything you’ve done for Leicester City Football Club. A credit to yourself, the club, the fans and I will always remember watching those Champions League nights on TV, under the floodlights down the ‘KP’.
A true gentleman and a friend of the club. Good luck in your future endeavours.