18+ | Commercial Content | T&Cs apply | Begambleaware.org
Leicester’s local paper summed up it up best when they reacted to the news Craig Shakespeare had been fired.
“If sacking Ranieri was like shooting Bambi, firing Shakespeare was like throttling Thumper too,” wrote City correspondent Rob Tanner in the Leicester Mercury.
It explains how big a figure Shakespeare was at the King Power Stadium having been there since 2008, barring a brief hiatus at Hull City from June 2010 to November 2011.
Claudio Ranieri may have been loved by the whole of Leicester for the magical season of 2015/16 when he led them to the Premier League title, but Shakespeare had been there for the whole ride.
He was there as assistant to Nigel Pearson for the promotion campaigns out of League One and the Championship, when the Foxes were travelling to the likes of Scunthorpe and not Seville.
Shakespeare, or Shakey as he was affectionately know by as those at the club, was there too for the great escape of 2014/15.
Back then Leicester had looked doomed for the drop and on April 3rd they were a hefty seven points from safety. However, seven wins from their final nine games led to them finishing 14th.
Those successes came alongside Pearson, but Ranieri’s appointment merely brought more triumphs for Shakespeare.
Alongside the Italian he helped mastermind that incredible title-winning campaign, which will never be forgotten by anyone in Leicester even though Ranieri and Shakespeare are both now gone.
With the charming Ranieri at the forefront of that amazing season it can be easy to overlook Shakespeare. However he was a key cog in that astonishing journey, as Danny Drinkwater pointed out in March 2017.
“He was huge,” Drinkwater said when asked about Shakespeare's role in Leicester's Premier League winning campaign.
“Last season he obviously helped Claudio settle in and he helped the link between the managers and the players, which I think he does excellently since I have been working with him.
“He has been a pleasure to work with as a manager, but as I said he took different roles as an assistant coach.
“He was the one if you had an issue you could maybe speak to him and he would speak to the manager or vice versa.”
Drinkwater’s praise for Shakespeare back then typifies how popular he was with the players at Leicester. Even the new signings took to him quickly as shown by summer arrival Harry Maguire.
“Disappointed to see the gaffer leave. The man who influenced me in joining @LCFC. A great man, a great coach. I wish him all the best.#lcfc,” he tweeted hours after Shakespeare was sacked.
Players may have been shocked to see their manager go just four months after signing a permanent deal, but it should not damage his legacy at Leicester.
Shakespeare has been the constant throughout what has been a truly remarkable decade for Leicester. Managers and players have come and gone during the club's rise from League One to the Champions League – but Shakey has been ever present.
When Ranieri came in during the summer of 2015 he provided the perfect link between the Italian and the players. As Drinkwater pointed out he was the ideal go-between; the glue that kept the whole thing together.
Shakespeare's ability as a brilliant coach was spotted by Sam Allardyce, who made the 53-year-old part of his setup with England. Clearly it is not just Leicester who realise how talented Shakespeare is as an assistant.
And while Shakespeare’s skill as No.2 during the Foxes rise will mean his legacy remains untarnished, his managerial efforts deserve praise too.
At a difficult time last season he came in to guide Leicester to safety, while he was also close to knocking out Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Domestically any flirting with relegation was ended as Shakespeare became the first British manager to win his first five Premier League matches in charge. He ended the campaign with victories in half of his 16 games in all competitions.
This season, as we have seen, circumstances have taken a turn for the worse and Shakespeare has been shown the door after one win in eight league games.
As is often the case, football can be blinded by focusing on the short term. But hopefully, when it comes to Shakespeare, Leicester fans will look back over the past decade and realise it wasn’t always the tragedy it turned out to be.