LEICESTER (AFP) - Leicester City supporters held banners aloft and donned masks in support of sacked manager Claudio Ranieri prior to Monday's Premier League home game with Liverpool.
Ranieri was sacked on Thursday, less than 10 months on from Leicester's 5,000-1 title triumph, after a run of five straight defeats plunged the club into a relegation battle.
The bespectacled and avuncular Italian, 65, was dearly loved by Leicester fans and several of those in attendance on Monday made a point of thanking him for his work at the club.
"Dilly ding, dilly dong/We're sad Claudio's gone," read one banner, a nod to the Ranieri catchphrase that became the slogan of last season's fairytale title tilt.
Many fans wore Ranieri face masks and several banners expressed thanks to him, with one reading: "Thank you Ranieri for making our dreams come true!" One banner held up by a female fan laid the blame for Ranieri's departure partly at the players' door: "RANIERI!! YOUR PLAYERS AND OWNERS LET YOU DOWN!" Caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare wrote in the match programme that press reports of a player rebellion against Ranieri were "unfair" and "unfounded".
Vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha wrote that the players had "supported Claudio fiercely", but accepted some supporters had been left "angry" by the club's decision to sack him.