Leicester City are searching for a third manager in eight months after sacking Craig Shakespeare just 10 games into a three-year contract.
Sporting director Jon Rudkin dismissed Shakespeare at the club’s Belvoir Drive training ground having allowed him to take charge of a friendly against Nottingham Forest.
Senior players were seen cheerily chatting to Shakespeare as the game, featuring squad members, took place but had left by the time the 53-year-old learned his fate at 2.30pm. Many found out the news by reading MailOnline, much to their disgruntlement.
Assistant Michael Appleton will take charge for Leicester’s game at Swansea on Saturday as the hunt for a permanent replacement begins.
Sam Allardyce is interested in the job, as is Chris Coleman. The Wales manager is considering leaving the international scene and would be open to talks at Leicester.
The club’s Thai owners, who are not in the country, want to appoint a major figure, but former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel and Carlo Ancelotti are not thought to be keen on the job.
Huddersfield’s David Wagner is a serious contender and Watford’s Marco Silva has admirers in the boardroom, while Burnley’s Sean Dyche has also been discussed and would be interested.
Shakespeare’s position had come under scrutiny after one win in eight Premier League games left the club in the relegation places, but the timing of the move was a shock.
Shakespeare remained hugely popular among members of the title-winning team, having worked at the club in two spells since 2008, although some of the younger and newer players felt a change was necessary.
Some at the club believe Shakespeare has paid the price for unreliable recruitment headed by Rudkin and the failure to adequately replace Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante, both sold to Chelsea.
While Harry Maguire’s signing looks a success, the jury is out on Kelechi Iheanacho and Vicente Iborra.
But the most glaring error was Leicester’s failure to ratify Adrien Silva’s deadline-day transfer from Sporting Lisbon. Silva has hugely impressed his prospective team-mates in training and it is a poor reflection on Leicester that the Portugal star cannot play until January because paperwork was submitted too late.
Shakespeare took over from Claudio Ranieri in difficult circumstances and won his first six games to steer Leicester clear of relegation trouble and into the Champions League quarter-finals.
Turning his interim role into a permanent appointment at the end of the season should have been a formality, but a delay until June 8 hinted at reticence from owners Vichai and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha.
It is accepted by the hierarchy that Leicester had a difficult run of fixtures but tepid displays in draws against Huddersfield, Bournemouth and West Brom were Shakespeare’s downfall. Supporters have voiced their concerns in greater numbers on social media in recent weeks.
Against West Brom on Monday, only Riyad Mahrez’s 80th-minute goal earned a point which left Leicester 18th in the table.
Rudkin let Shakespeare take a warm-down session on Tuesday morning and then the match featuring fringe players against a Forest XI, which kicked off at 11.30am. That the news was not delivered first thing has caused a degree of upset.
Appleton, who left his role as Oxford United manager to become Shakespeare’s No 2 this summer, will be in charge of the team for Saturday’s vital clash at the Liberty Stadium, supported by coaches Mike Stowell and Adam Sadler.
Vice-chairman Aiyawatt said: ‘Craig has been a great servant to Leicester — during his spells as assistant manager and since taking over as manager in challenging circumstances in February. His dedication to the club and to his work has been absolute and the contribution he made to the most successful period in Leicester City history is considerable.
‘However, our early promise under Craig’s management has not been consistently evident in the months since and the board feels that, regrettably, a change is necessary to keep the club moving forward — consistent with the expectations of our supporters, board and owners.
‘Craig is and will remain a very popular, respected figure at Leicester and will be welcome back at King Power Stadium in future, both professionally and as a friend of the club.’
FIFA President, Infantino tests positive for COVID-19
FIFA Chief, Gianni Infantino has contracted coronavirus popularly known as COVID-19, the world’s football governing body announced on Tuesday.
According to the information scooped from AFP, the 50-year-old has mild symptoms and will remain in isolation for a further 10 days.
“All people who came into contact with the FIFA President during the last few days have been informed accordingly and they are being requested to take the necessary steps,” the body said.
“FIFA sincerely wishes President Infantino a speedy recovery,” it added.
Infantino’s last public appearances was at FIFA’s Compliance Summit which ended on October 16 when all attendees were present via video.
Cases, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 in the body’s base, Switzerland, have doubled from one week to the next throughout October.
The country’s government is expected to decide Wednesday on new measures to control the spread of the virus.
The spread of the illness has cast doubt over Wednesday’s potential meeting between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the Champions League after the Juventus attacker tested positive for the illness earlier this month.
Barcelona: Real reason for Messi’s u-turn
“The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he didn’t end up keeping his word,” Messi said in an interview with Goal, released on Friday.
“I thought and we were sure that I was free. The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not and now they hold on to the fact that I did not say it before June 10 when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for the league in the middle of this shitty virus and this disease that altered all the dates.”
Messi, 33, added: “And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club… because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700-million-euro release clause.
“This is impossible, and then the other way was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here.”
Messi had said he wanted to leave the club he joined as a boy after Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.
His lawyers sent a burofax stating his intention to go for free on August 25 but Messi says he had made his feelings clear to Bartomeu many times before.
“I told the club, especially the president, that I wanted to go,” said Messi. “I’ve been telling him all year. I believed it was time to step aside.
‘Everything became difficult’
“I believed that the club needed more young people, new people and I thought my time in Barcelona was over, feeling very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here.
“It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new goals, new horizons.
“It wasn’t because of the Champions League result against Bayern, I had been thinking about it for a long time. I told the president and the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he did not end up keeping his word.”
Despite his unhappiness, Messi insists he will give his all for Barcelona next season under their new coach Ronald Koeman, with his current contract due to expire in June next year.
Messi set to quit Barcelona
Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona that he wants to “unilaterally” terminate his contract with the Spanish giants, a club source confirmed to AFP on Tuesday.
Lawyers for the Argentina star sent Barca a fax in which they announced Messi’s desire to rescind his contract by triggering a release clause.
However, the club maintains the clause expired in June and he remains under contract until the end of the 2021 season.
“In principial, this clause expired on June 10, but the unusual nature of this season disrupted by the coronavirus opened the way for Messi to ask to be released from his contract now,” wrote Spanish sports daily Marca.
“It’s the first step towards opening negotiations over his departure, on the basis of which his release clause amounts to 700 million euros.”
According to Spanish media, Messi met with new Barca coach Ronald Koeman last week and told the Dutchman he saw himself “more out than in” the club.
“The end of the glorious era of Leo Messi at Barcelona seems to be close. After the arrival of Ronald Koeman, what looks like the exit of his friend Luis Suarez and a difficult and turbulent end to the season, Messi told Barcelona in a fax of his intention to leave the club,” said Once radio station.
Barcelona suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon earlier this month, resulting in the dismissal of coach Quique Setien after barely six months in charge.
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