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Ranieri sacked nine months after title win

dpa logodpa 23/02/2017 Simon Cambers

The fairytale of Leicester City's run to the Premier League title has crumbled in just nine months, culminating in the firing of manager Claudio Ranieri.

Leicester City has sacked manager Claudio Ranieri, nine months after he helped them win the Premier League title for the first time in the team's history.

The Italian lost his job on Thursday with Leicester one point above the relegation zone.

In a statement, Leicester said the board "reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the club's greatest interest."

"This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City," the club's vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said.

"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."

Srivaddhanaprabha praised Ranieri, who took over in July 2015 and who masterminded one of the most remarkable triumphs in sporting history, landing the title despite odds of 5,000-1.

"Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office," he said.

"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."

Former Leicester and England striker Gary Lineker expressed his surprise.

"After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad," he said on Twitter.

Another former Leicester striker, Alan Smith, told Sky Sports the decision had left him flabbergasted.

Srivaddhanaprabha said the board's sole aim was to do what it takes to keep the club up.

"It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season," he said.

"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 maximize the opportunity presented by the final 13 games."

Leicester's assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and first team coach Mike Stowell will take charge until a new manager is appointed.

Leicester face Liverpool in their next match on Monday.

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