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Ranieri sacking 'the biggest shock in a decade'

Leicester City's decision to sack Premier League winner Claudio Ranieri is the biggest shock in a decade, according to Alan Smith.

Former Leicester striker Smith was stunned by the call to remove manager Ranieri from his position on Thursday, less than a year after their magnificent title success.

The Foxes sit just one point clear of the relegation zone with 13 matches to play after being crowned champions at odds of 5,000-1 last season.

"I'm flabbergasted," Smith said to Sky Sports. "We have seen some surprising decisions over the last 10 years but this one tops the lot given his - and the players' - amazing achievements last season.

"You just thought that unless they went down they would stay with the manager that engineered the finest moment in the club's history and the biggest and most romantic story we've ever seen in football.

"I'm just amazed they didn't hold their nerve and stay with their man. We don't know what has gone behind the scenes and we have heard the rumours about Ranieri not spending time on the training ground and falling out with assistant Craig Shakespeare.

"I don't know if they are true but as always the players have to take a long hard look at themselves. These are the same players that were picked and performed last season - and they just have not done that. It is a sorry situation.

"They will need someone on board now – it is such a shock and there may be another shock with who the club name as the replacement."

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Another of the club's former strikers, Tony Cottee, felt Ranieri would have only deserved the axe had Leicester been relegated and lamented the timing of the decision after a commendable 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

"I can't quite get my head around it," he said. "I was at the game and they could have lost heavily if things had gone against them but when [Jamie] Vardy got that away goal you are thinking Leicester have got a real chance.

"They lost but that was a good result for them and they would have been looking forward to the second leg. From that point of view the timing couldn't have been any worse.

"This is like a normal Leicester season - they are normally in the bottom half of the table and they are normally flirting with relegation.

"I don't think it will go down too well with the supporters. He gave them a season that will never be matched. It will just never happen again.

"I think he should have been given more time and a bit more respect. Then if they do go down, you say thank you very much and you move on."