|Leicester City’s Italian manager Claudio Ranieri. — AFP Photo
LONDON — Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger and Claudio Ranieri who guided Leicester City to the unlikeliest of titles last season are facing rocky futures for different reasons.
Wenger -- whose side tackle non league Sutton in the FA Cup on Monday -- is in the spotlight as yet another season threatens to end in disappointment vis a vis the title and the Champions League.
And Ranieri because the Foxes have lost their bite and are in danger of becoming the first English league champions to be relegated since Manchester City in 1938.
Ranieri’s last refuge -- third tier Millwall ousting them from the FA Cup on Saturday despite being reduced to 10 men -- is the Champions League and his team have a tricky away trip to Sevilla this week.
Here AFP Sports looks at five other managerial icons who fell foul of the very same fans who used to chant their names from the rooftops.
Luiz Felipe Scolari - Brazil
’Big Phil’ never stood taller than when he guided a Brazil side numbering the three ’R’s’ Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho to the 2002 World Cup triumph over Germany.
Seen as the man most capable of delivering World Cup glory on home soil in 2014 the dream descended into a barely credible nightmare as without injured superstar Neymar the Germans dismantled the hosts in a 7-1 walloping which plunged the nation into mourning. Describing it as the ’worst day of his life’ he jumped before he was pushed, resigning from the post after the Netherlands beat them 3-0 in the meaningless third place play-off.
Roberto di Matteo - Chelsea
The Switzerland-born Italy international was a popular figure as a player at the club -- he scored goals in both the 1997 and 2000 FA Cup final victories -- but his standing became almost godlike when against all expectations he delivered the Champions League in 2012, the trophy above all others that Russian oligarch owner Roman Abramovich desired. The FA Cup was added that season .
Rewarded with a two year contract in June 2012 the amiable di Matteo was sacked in November as a series of poor results prompted the never patient Abramovich to fire him.
Jose Mourinho - Chelsea
The self anointed ’Special One’ returned to Chelsea for a second spell and duly delivered the 2015 Premier League title in his second season back.
All seemed set fair for another trophy-laden term in office but things quickly disintegrated not least his fragile temperament. A very public row with the club doctor Evas Carneiro and woeful results plus certain players growing disenchanted with the Portuguese handler resulted in the unthinkable happening and his leaving the club in December 2015 by ’mutual consent’.
Cesar Luis Menotti - Argentina
Chain smoking long-haired coach who despite the permanent smoke clouds emanating from the dugout could see clearly enough of what was going on on the pitch to mastermind the 1978 side captained by Daniel Passarella to World Cup success at home. Menotti stayed on for their 1982 title defence but they lost to Belgium in their first game.
An early return home for a side including young talent Diego Maradona but a labouring ageing defence came after defeats to eventual winners Italy and bitter rivals Brazil in the second round group stage. Menotti had run out of puff.
Jupp Heynckes - Real Madrid
Real Madrid are not renowned for sparing a manager’s feelings or career and Heynckes can attest to that more than anyone.
The German handler brought ’the meringues’ their seventh European Cup trophy -- and first in 32 years -- in defeating Juventus in 1998. Ecstasy turned to misery as with a singular lack of gratitude Real sacked him days later for finishing fourth in the league.
He had the last laugh years later, ending his career by guiding Bayern Munich to the treble of the league title, Cup and Champions League. — AFP