Fulham players have admitted that they realised Claudio Ranieri had to go when he became irrational and appeared to believe he had won the Premier League title with Leicester City.
The ex-Chelsea manager was relieved of his duties after 106 days in charge, with Fulham languishing in 19th and in dire danger of relegation – and behind the scenes, players at Craven Cottage had begun to worry about the 67-year-old’s state of mind.
As the pressure mounted, Ranieri increasingly started to fall back on a narrative he'd constructed in which he had miraculously won the Premier League title against all the odds with Leicester – an achievement that none of the players felt could be rooted in reality.
“We all had the upmost respect for Claudio and his record in football, but he was starting to make claims that seemed somewhat far-fetched,” midfielder Tom Cairney told FourFourTwo.
“After the [abject] 2-0 loss to Southampton a few people gently questioned Il Gaffone [the gaffer] about his tactics and he began this strange story about how he’d won the Premier League title.
“We were all sort of following until he very clearly said that he’d been managing Leicester at the time, and that this wasn’t sort of back in the 1970s when teams like Coventry would win things, but literally a couple of years ago.
“He lost us from that poin. In fact, we all became quite worried about him. For a start, what would he even be doing at Fulham if he’d won the title that recently? And, Leicester, really? It was hard to take him seriously after that.”
Rather than galvanising his struggling squad, Ranieri’s stirring tale of a team inspired by Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwater vanquishing football’s superpowers left his charges morose and disheartened.
“We all started talking a bit louder and slower [to Ranieri] after that,” Calum Chambers told FourFourTwo.
“I offered to drive him home and make him a nice cup of sugary tea, and asked if he had any relatives we could call to come and look in on him.
“But that just seemed to make him worse. He said he could get the Vardster [Jamie Vardy] on the phone right now if I wanted, to which I sincerely replied that I didn’t want that at all.”
Just hours later, Fulham formally parted company with Ranieri, but not before making sure he had a fully-stocked fridge and knew how to turn his heating on and off.
Please note: Needless to say, this satirical story is not real.
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