Ben Burgess column: Should the knives be out for Leicester ‘back-stabbers’?

Ben Burgess

Ben Burgess

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Another week passes by and another week of Blackpool raising our hopes and then cruelly dashing them in the space of 90 minutes.

I spoke on BBC Radio Lancashire last week about the importance of the Seasiders proving their play-off credentials against those already occupying the top positions.

Exeter away on Saturday was that opportunity. They were a team in sixth position and Gary Bowyer’s men completely outplayed them for the opening period.

Once again, they were pegged back. As soon as I saw that Exeter had pulled the score back to 2-1 there was an air of inevitability about the resulting equaliser.

The complete opposite happened on Tuesday against Barnet, when Blackpool had to show resilience to come from behind to snatch a draw.

In my column last week, I wrote about how poor Leicester had been and how their players didn’t seem to be the same as those who ran amok through the Premier League big boys last season.

Sure enough, Claudio Ranieri was sacked with the Champions sitting one place above the relegation zone and having failed to score a league goal in 2017.

Cue an absolute outcry from every supporter, manager and player in the world, all of them criticising Leicester’s decision and also slagging off the players along the way. The lack of player statements in the press or even their social media accounts in the aftermath spoke a great deal about their relationship with Ranieri.

My view was somewhat at odds with the general view of ‘classless Leicester’ stabbing the most successful manager they’ve ever had in the back.

From the outside, the decision does look unbelievably harsh and the players were certainly not performing at their best for him.

From a Leicester owner’s perspective, he has a football club that could lose millions of pounds if they are relegated.

The momentum and fan-base built up in the title- winning year would be lost. The team he is bankrolling are clearly unhappy, stale and underperforming and appeared to be on a downward spiral to the Championship.

He had two choices – stick with a manager who the players, for whatever reason, had lost faith in and face the inevitable relegation, or be bold and brave and sack the manager and immediately get your players back on side and happy. He chose the latter and was repaid instantly with a 3-1 victory over Liverpool.

Many people have accused the players of treachery and back-stabbing.

They claim that the players owe Ranieri everything because he guided them to the title.

Well, what about the idea that the players guided Ranieri to the title?

That those same players who performed miracles to avoid relegation under Nigel Pearson, just carried on where they left off when the new season kicked off.

There are two sides to every argument and often the views of super-rich and privileged young footballers aren’t always taken into account. There’s no hiding from the fact that they have performed poorly this year but the tactics have changed. Many players have also changed.

No footballer goes out to play badly (regardless of how much they dislike their manager).

It’s the same in every line of work – if you disagree with and don’t get on with your boss, then you turn up to work, do your job and then go home. If you like your boss and he has fostered a great atmosphere, then you arrive at work with a smile on your face, you socialise with happy colleagues, you do your job and are quite happy to give that little bit extra.

Everyone knows that people produce their best work when they are happy and relaxed. Football is no different.