Leicester City begin their search for the man they hope will deliver Premier League safety after sacking the club’s “most successful manager of all time”, Claudio Ranieri on Thursday.
With the Foxes hovering just one point above the relegation zone, the Italian was relieved of his duties after the team returned home from Wednesday night’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to Sevilla.
In announcing Ranieri’s departure, which comes less than a year after their incredible run to the Premier League title, the club paid tribute to his achievements but said their perilous league position required action.
Leicester vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: “This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City. 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.
“Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City.
“His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the club and develop its profile on a global scale. 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 at the start of the campaign.
“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.”
Last season, Leicester defied 5000-1 odds to lift the Premier League trophy just one season after a late escape from relegation under former Hull ~city manager and Sheffield Wednesday central defender Nigel Pearson.
But this season the Foxes have been thoroughly unable to replicate such form, and the problems have grown in recent weeks.
They have not tasted victory in their last nine outings, since a 2-1 away win at Everton in the FA Cup on January 7, with their last league victory a 1-0 win over West Ham on December 31.
Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and Mike Stowell will take interim charge ahead of Monday’s match against Liverpool.
Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who had a short spell as a player with the Foxes, is among the favourites to replace Ranieri, along with former manager Pearson, Alan Pardew and Frank de Boer.
Former Leicester striker Tony Cottee thinks his old club could turn to Pearson for a third stint.
“Have they got someone lined up? Who’s going to step into a relegation fight?,” he said.
“Nigel (Pearson) did a fantastic job before Claudio took over and it wouldn’t surprise me if he were to come back to the club. I think a lot of the problems with Nigel were related to off-field stuff as opposed to what he was doing as a football manager. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him.
“For me Nigel Pearson would be a good candidate but whoever is going to get this job needs to be appointed very, very quickly. They’ve got a massive game coming up on Monday and they need a manager very, very quickly.”