Columnists 2.3.2017 02:47 pm

Players still holding the keys of the kingdom

If Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp knew what was going to happen in his side’s Premier League match against Leicester on Monday, he would probably have kept a lid on his mouth in the build-up to the match.

The German was very vocal over Claudio Ranieri’s sacking last week and downplayed the players’ involvement in the whole aff air. A possible player revolt has been rumoured for a while a er it became clear they had lost faith in the Italian’s ability to guide last season’s unexpected champions to league survival.

‘’The players need to be powerful, but not in sacking managers. It’s not like the Leicester players did it. It is if someone asked, they gave an answer,” Klopp told British media at the weekend. ‘’It depends always on the board. As long as the players talk together there is no problem. It is not about how powerful (the players are).’’

But what happened at King Power Stadium on Monday night proved quite the opposite. Leicester have been very poor in defence of their title with last season’s hero Jamie Vardy particularly rubbish. Even his own fans have composed a new song that goes something like: “eff off Vardy, you’ve had your party’’. But, just like that, hardly three days after Ranieri’s sacking, the Foxes looked like a champion side almost for the first time this season with Vardy breaking his eightgame goal drought with a brace in their 3-1 win over the Reds.

How much could caretaker manager Craig Shakepeare, who was Ranieri’s assistant, have changed in four days? Absolutely nothing I guess. The only diff erence between this week and last week is that the players wanted to play again … after getting their wish of course. I remember a similar situation at Chelsea last season. After guiding the Blues to the Premier League title the season before, manager Jose Mourinho lost the dressing room in an instant and was duly fired.

Less than a week after suffering their ninth loss in 16 games, the Blues emphatically beat Sunderland 3-1 and only lost three more matches in the rest of their league campaign. Huh? At the start of the local cricket season there was a situation of player unrest at the Cape Cobras. Some players were reportedly reluctant to carry on working under Paul Adams and went as far as to lodge a complaint against the former Proteas spinner.

The matter was investigated by an independent panel, but the Western Province Cricket board found some ‘’material deficiencies’’ in the mediator’s report, resulting in them giving Adams a vote of confidence … which duly backfired. Almost as if to show their boss es the middle finger, the Cobras looked rubbish at the start of the season, losing three and drawing two of their four-day matches and could only muster three wins in the T20 Challenge, finishing fourth. Then, right at the end of last year, Adams stepped down and moved into a new role, leaving the reins for assistant Ashwell Prince to pick up.

Guess what? Overnight, the team started playing decent cricket, winning three of their last five Sunfoil Series matches and drawing the other two. Once again, at the switch of a bu on, the very same personnel can under-perform one day and be great the next. The board might have the keys to the safe, but the players have the real power. Watch your back, Herr Klopp.

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