Monday 18 December 2017 / 04:10 PM

DOES CLAUDIO NEED TO BEAT PORTO TO KEEP HIS JOB?

If you missed it, Leicester City lost again at the weekend.

To be fair to them, it wasn’t a league game – so on paper, it doesn’t affect their Premier League survival campaign.

The psychological ramifications may well do though.

But whilst it wasn’t in the league and there weren’t points to fight for – it was against Millwall in the FA Cup.

A Championship team. The league that Leicester may well end up in unless things change, and sharpish.

Claudio Ranieri may have made 10 changes for the visit to The Den, but the usual suspects were on the bench and failed to make an impact off it, as the Foxes slipped to a 1-0 loss.

What will make this even more galling for Leicester fans is that on paper, they had a very tangible chance of progressing to the quarter finals of the FA Cup. Win that game, and there’s a trip to Wembley to look forward to.

But that’s gone now. Out of the FA Cup and just one place above the relegation zone. It’s all cloudy in Leicestershire.

But there is one small ray of sunshine.

On Wednesday, the Foxes travel to Sevilla for the first leg of their last-16 clash in the Champions League.

In my view, this is the only thing keeping Ranieri in his role.

He has presided over a frankly awful season so far, and with the FA Cup hopes now extinguished, most managers would be staring down the barrel of a P45.

Ranieri isn’t…but I think the Champions League is the only thing blocking that shot.

How could the Leicester board get rid of the man who won them the league last season and has safely navigated them through the Champions League group stages this season?

They couldn’t.

As much as Leicester fans will be frustrated with Ranieri, they will be acutely aware of the key role the Italian has played in making dreams come true at the King Power Stadium.

But were Leicester to exit at this stage, the landscape would look decidedly different.

Would no Champions League football, no FA Cup football and an embarrassing position in the Premier League be enough to push him out the exit door?

I think so. The Leicester board quite rightly respect Ranieri, but they’ll also be well aware of the financial repercussions of exiting the Premier League.

It’s a catch-22. Leicester will want to progress, obviously.

But with Ranieri in charge, Premier League relegation is looking more and more likely.

Based on the evidence then, the longer Leicester stay in Europe, the higher the chance of relegation.

A Champions League victory may well prolong the agony – as long as they’re in the Champions League, I suspect Ranieri has a job. Cynical Leicester fans may be hoping that their team falter at this hurdle; it might be the easiest way to secure Premier League football.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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