Claudio Ranieri, who guided Leicester to an astonishing Premier League title just nine months ago, has been sacked, the club have confirmed.
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, the club paid tribute to his achievements as the club’s “most successful…manager of all time” but said their perilous league position required action.
Last season, Leicester defied 5000-1 odds to lift the Premier League trophy just one season after a late escape from relegation under 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.
The Leicester statement in full:
Leicester City Football Club has tonight (Thursday) parted company with its First Team Manager, Claudio Ranieri.
Claudio, appointed City manager in July 2015, led the Foxes to the greatest triumph in the Club’s 133-year history last season, as we were crowned champions of England for the first time. His status as the most successful Leicester City manager of all time is without question.
However, 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.
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.”
First Team preparations for Monday’s Premier League fixture against Liverpool will resume on Saturday, with Assistant Manager Craig Shakespeare and First Team Coach Mike Stowell taking charge of the squad until a new manager is appointed.
Assistant Manager and First Team Coach Paolo Benetti and First Team Sport Science and Conditioning Coach Andrea Azzalin have also parted company with the Club and leave with our thanks for their service and best wishes for the future.
The Board will now begin the recruitment process and will make no further comment until that process is completed.