Claudio Ranieri has revealed he was shocked to learn he had been sacked as Leicester City manager, but is refusing to be bitter towards the club he led to a sensational Premier League title triumph less than a year ago.
Emotions remain raw regarding Ranieri’s departure, with many still angry with Leicester’s players for failing to do more keep the Italian in the job during a dreadful defence of their crown this season.
Leicester’s results, though, have improved dramatically since Ranieri was sacked last month, which has offered some vindication for the owners who took a difficult decision to remove the man responsible for writing one of football’s greatest fairytales.
Others, though, feel the fact the players have performed so well for Ranieri’s former assistant, Craig Shakespeare, merely confirms they had not been trying hard enough for the man responsible for turning them into champions.
Leicester were fourth from bottom when Shakespeare was placed in charge of the team on February 23rd, but have moved clear of the drop zone on the back of four successive wins.
Ranieri, is clearly hurt by the brutal nature of his dismissal, but the 65-year-old seems determined to keep things dignified rather than attack those who are thought to have betrayed him.
"Thinking of Leicester, the first thing that comes to mind is the sense of surprise, even more than bitterness," said Ranieri, in quotes reported by Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I have been through a lot in my long career, but never anything like this. It was a shock, but in the end these things are part of football."
Whether Ranieri is merely sharpening the axe he has to grind remains to be seen. It is a possibility given he also confirmed he will speak in more detail about what went wrong when he appears as a pundit on Sky Sports during the Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Arsenal on April 10.
"Until that day I will not talk," he said. "Because everything took place in England and it seems fitting to talk in England."
Several Leicester players, including England international Jamie Vardy, have claimed they have been unfairly targeted for abuse following Ranieri’s sacking and have denied they were responsible for the former Chelsea manager losing his job.
Despite their troubles this term, there is still a chance Leicester could write an even better story as they are the only English club left in the Champions League and will face Atletico Madrid in the quarter-final.
Ranieri was sacked just 24 hours after he had been in charge of the team when they secured a vital away goal against Seville in a 2-1 defeat in Spain, before a 2-0 win in the second leg ensured their progress with Shakespeare in control.