Whoever takes the Leicester City manager’s job could become the most unpopular boss in the game after the shock dismissal of Claudio Ranieri last week. After receiving the dreaded vote of confidence from the Foxes board, the much-loved Italian was rewarded with the sack, just nine months on from winning the Premier League title against all odds (5000-1) last May.
Following Ranieri’s sacking, caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare is now best placed to pacify the angry fans at the King Power. Shakespeare, a former trusted assistant to both Nigel Pearson and Ranieri, did his chances of getting the Foxes job on a permanent basis absolutely no harm with a breath-taking 3-1 win against Liverpool on Monday. Buoyed by the bonus three points, his price plummeted from 7-1 to as low as 5-4 favourite with Bet Victor. Sky Bet are currently best priced at 3-1 but that will surely go quick, judging by the immense reaction “Shakey” got from those previous underperforming Leicester players in his first game in temporary charge.
Certainly, the King Power job can be classed as very much a poisoned chalice desperately in need of strong leadership and someone with close ties to the club, so unsurprisingly, Nigel Pearson has emerged as another strong contender to become the new (and old) Leicester manager.
Pearson, 53, won seven out of his last 10 games as Foxes boss in an ultimately successful battle against relegation in the 2014/15 season, but left the club in controversial circumstances having clashed with the media, fans and an opposition player during an eventful campaign. The club’s board said at the time their relationship with Pearson, who also led them to promotion, was “no longer viable,” but the same under-pressure directors may opt for the “better the devil you know approach” and plump for the feisty Pearson after all the flak they received for firing Ranieri. Pearson can now be backed at 6-1 with Bet Victor, having drifted from being the clear odds-on favourite.
Roberto Mancini, who ended his playing career with the Foxes, was the early front-runner to replace his compatriot, but he can now be backed at 33s. If these long odds are anything to go by, it seems clear that the former Manchester City boss doesn’t want to become 2017’s most disliked man in the East Midlands.
Guus Hiddink (5-1 with Paddy Power) has had his share of backers. The Dutch maestro knows all about taking over at crisis clubs, steading the ship at Chelsea in the post-Jose Mourinho era last season. Crucially though, he doesn’t have any experience of relegation battles in the Premier League, unlike either of the close-knit duo of Pearson and Shakespeare.
Former England boss Roy Hodgson and Alan Pardew have both been linked with the job, while former Foxes boss Martin O’Neill has ruled himself out of the running for a return to the King Power.