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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Players got too big for their boots says chaplain after Ranieri’s fall

The Chaplain for Sport has questioned the Leicester City team for the sacking of its manager Claudio Ranieri.

Mgr Vladimir Felzmann noted that “after the climax all too often comes the anti-climax” as he scrutinised the Leicester City team following the cut-throat dismissal of Claudio Ranieri who, less than 10 months ago, managed The Foxes to one of the most remarkable triumphs in sporting history when they became Premier League champions, despite odds of 5000-1.

“Last year Leicester’s team was committed to an impossible dream. Life was fun. Sacrifices worthwhile. They were hungry for success,” Mgr Felzmann told The Universe.

However, he pointed out that this year the hunger had gone.

“Familiarity – even with success – breeds, often sub-consciously, apathy,” he noted. “Their dream of winning the Premier League no longer motivates The Foxes. They have done that.

“It is a thing of the past. They have their rewards: their new cars and fame.”
The club is now in a bitter relegation battle, which many point to as the reason behind Mr Ranieri’s dismissal.

However, others have criticised the club for their decision to sack Mr Ranieri, the man they pledged their ‘unwavering support’ to on Tuesday, 7th February.

But by 23rd February his position was deemed untenable and Leicester issued a further statement saying that they ‘reluctantly feel that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the club’s greatest interest’.

Mr Ranieri’s departure also came less than 24 hours after a 2-1 defeat at Spanish side Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie – a result that, while a loss, many still applauded, pointing to the fact that Leicester were entering the second leg with an away goal.

However, Mgr Felzmann, who is also the CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, mentioned that there was much talk about the players’ influence in Mr Ranieri’s dismissal.

“As last Sunday’s Gospel reminded us: It is impossible whole-heartedly to serve two masters,” he explained. “The players started to believe they were superstars; and took their eyes off the ball.

“Even worse, rumour has it that in Seville they had a ‘summit’ – behind Claudio’s back – with the owners of the club,” said the chaplain. “Having driven them to success they resented his drive.”

However, Mgr Felzmann believes “they have paid the price”.

“Ranieri’s sacking is a very sad day for what – at its best – is still the beautiful game: on the pitch, if not in the board room.”

This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:

Saturday 4th March

Manchester United v Bournemouth – 12:30pm
Leicester City v Hull City – 3:00pm
Stoke City v Middlesbrough – 3:00pm
Swansea City v Burnley – 3:00pm
Watford v Southampton – 3:00pm
West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace – 3:00pm
Liverpool v Arsenal – 5:30pm

Sunday 5th March

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton – 1:30pm
Sunderland v Manchester City – 4:00pm

Monday 6th March

West Ham United v Chelsea – 8:00pm

Picture: A mural of Claudio Ranieri, designed after his Premier League triumph, hangs in Leicester city centre. (Chris Radburn PA Wire/PA Images).