Tony Cottee: Claudio Ranieri sacking was panic decision by Leicester

23 February 2017 09:10

Former Leicester striker Tony Cottee has claimed the club pressed the panic button by sacking manager Claudio Ranieri as other ex-Foxes also expressed their surprise at the Italian's departure.

Alan Smith and Gary Lineker were others questioning the timing of the decision by the club's Malaysian owners, with Leicester fighting a battle against relegation and facing a 2-1 deficit to Sevilla ahead of a Champions League last-16 second leg.

With Leicester at home to Liverpool in a crunch Premier League game on Monday, Cottee expressed his surprise.

He told Sky Sports News: " From that point of view the timing couldn't have been any worse. They've got a massive game coming up against Liverpool on Monday night.

"I can only think that something's gone on somewhere or there's been a disagreement and they've obviously come to this decision."

He added: "To press the button tonight it sounds like a real panic decision. The one thing I don't know, I don't know what's happening in the dressing room. It's a brave decision but it's a bizarre decision as well, bearing in mind where they are and the stage of the season."

Cottee also said he felt there would be a backlash from Leicester's fans.

" Personally I don't think it'll go down too well (with the Leicester supporters)," he said.

" I think Claudio Ranieri gave the Leicester fans last season a season that will never be matched. I think Claudio should have been given a little bit more time, a little bit more respect."

Smith said he was "f labbergasted" at the decision to sack Ranieri.

"We've seen some surprising, shocking decisions over the last 10 years maybe as things have heated up in the Premier League. I think this one tops the lot given his amazing achievements last season, along with the players," he said on Sky Sports News.

"I just thought that unless they did go down they would stay with the manager that engineered the finest moment in the club's history and the most romantic story we've ever seen in football over the last 20-30 years or so.

"(I am) a bsolutely flabbergasted that they didn't hold their nerve and stay with that man."

Smith said some of the blame should be taken by the Leicester players, adding: "As always in these situations, the players have got to take a long, hard look at themselves. These are the same players he was picking last season."

Lineker took to Twitter when the news of Ranieri's departure first broke. The former Leicester and England striker and current Match of the Day presenter first tweeted: "Claudio Ranieri? Sacked? Really? Dilly Ding Dilly Game's Gone."

After the club confirmed the news he added: " After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad."

Lineker's fellow BBC presenter Dan Walker added: " Claudio Ranieri sacked by Leicester City. What a sad end to one of THE greatest football stories."

Good Morning TV host and Arsenal fan Piers Morgan added: " Claudio Ranieri sacked???? Most disgraceful decision in the history of football."

TV presenter Jake Humphrey added: " Feb 7th 2017. 'The club want to make clear it's unwavering support for Claudio Ranieri'. Feb 23rd 2017. Leicester sack Claudio Ranieri."

Source: PA