Sports Editor’s blog: Ranieri has earned right to decide his own fate

Leicester City's triumphant manager Claudio Ranieri on stage at Leicester's Victoria Park EMN-170902-104114002
Leicester City's triumphant manager Claudio Ranieri on stage at Leicester's Victoria Park EMN-170902-104114002
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It’s accepted wisdom around these parts it’s pretty hard to impress an East Midlander. Simple to offend, true, but a different matter when it comes to grudging admiration.

Having grown up in a remote Lincolnshire market town I just thought this was the way of things everywhere.

Melton Market stallholder and Leicester City fan Lennie Greet celebrates the Foxes winning the Premier League EMN-170902-104059002

Melton Market stallholder and Leicester City fan Lennie Greet celebrates the Foxes winning the Premier League EMN-170902-104059002

Yet as I began to tentatively wander further afield, I discovered things were different.

It was not altogether uncommon in other parts of the country for complete strangers to make eye contact with you in the street.

On the odd occasion I experienced this at home, when the fixed gaze was lifted grudgingly from paving slabs, it would come generally with a glance of contempt.

An expression which suggested I had insulted their mother or allowed my dog to foul their lawn - if I had a dog.

No, these odd folk up north and across to the west, would also smile.

Even, with staggering over familiarity, exchange words like hello and good morning. I know, what’s that all about?

Now it’s Claudio Ranieri’s turn to feel the chilly blast of East Midlands disdain.

But for the avuncular Italian, everyone’s favourite adopted family member last year, it’s not just a good chunk of locals who seem ambivalent to his stellar achievement.

Well, if you will try to impress, Claudio!

There are plenty of dispassionate armchair fans, far removed from the heartbeat of stadia and matchday, with fingers poised over betting shop apps, who believe the boss of the defending champions should be sacked.

Betraying Premier League football’s lack of provenance and devotion to cash, they believe the only rational move is to bin off the man who last May oversaw the biggest-ever miracle in domestic English football.

Remove someone who did the impossible: drove the romance back into the most hard-hearted and cynical of all sports.

But as we know in modern football, which has all the attention span and gratitude of a bored infant, nine months is ancient history.

The best response I heard, however, came during a TV vox pop of fans outside the King Power.

One supporter said if he had been offered the scenario that his team would win the Premier League and then lose every game the following season he would take it.

At first the pessimistic tone seemed a bit depressing. But I soon realised his reaction was anything but; in fact he was spot on.

For that man, no matter what happens this season, he will never allow it to darken the glow of last year’s glory.

There will always be a shrine in his heart for those joyous memories.

I suspect this is shared by most dyed-in-the-wool Foxes fans.

While a fall from grace, however expected, is still painful, most supporters will cherish their once-in-a-lifetime title no matter what comes next.

It’s a rationale all supporters should perhaps adhere to. Don’t believe the marketing mantras that achievement is only temporary.

Indulge in the glow of that triumph as long as you want.

As a Man City fan who was there when we were rubbish (almost how the song goes), I had long resigned myself to a trophyless fate.

The critics in the TV studios, in the newsrooms, in the armchairs will tell you the FA Cup is dead, who cares, the league is everything.

That City finally ended their 35-year drought by winning this pointless pot in 2011 was unbelievable. To see it in person, beyond all dreams.

Every time scorn is poured on bile aimed at my club, I just think back to that dizzy day at Wembley.

Blinking back tears of pride, thinking instinctively of my late mum who would have been equally chuffed to see her son’s ridiculous team of duffers and letdowns actually do something right.

For those of us privileged enough to share that kind of experience, the sneers and unrealistic expectations of the here and now are nothing.

On that overcast afternoon in London, even an East Midlander was impressed.