NOBODY took Leicester’s director of football too seriously when he showed his face at the club’s training ground.
Jon Rudkin, little known until he was promoted from his role as academy director in 2014, has always been a soft target around the place.
But Craig Shakespeare, sacked by Rudkin on Tuesday, will regret that now.
In the fullness of time, goalkeeper coach Mike Stowell and head physio David Rennie may well feel the same way.
Rudkin, with the full support of the club’s Thai ownership, is running the show.
Shakespeare, falling back on his CV as a decent central midfielder with Walsall and West Brom, talked himself into the job when Claudio Ranieri was fired.
Over the last few months, he has talked his way out of it.
Shakespeare under-estimated Rudkin’s power — he has become a trusted and valued member of Leicester’s management team.
And Rudkin was never really having Shakespeare.
As the clamour to give him the job permanently intensified last season, Rudkin was busy trying to convince David Wagner to leave Huddersfield.
To his credit, Wagner — knee-deep in a promotion race with Huddersfield at the time — did not want any distractions in the final weeks of the season.
Those negotiations, with Rudkin desperate to tempt the German coach to leave the Terriers, are the reason Shakespeare was left hanging until June 8.
When Wagner turned the Foxes down out of loyalty to Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle, they were left with Shakespeare. He was regarded as the interim manager — but Leicester were never really that into him.
The trust, the bond and the alliances which developed when Ranieri led the Foxes to their 5,000-1 shot Premier League title have all been eroded.
Shakespeare denied stabbing Ranieri in the back when the Italian was fired by Leicester just nine months after leading them to that crazy title.
Whatever Shakey said about it, he always looked a bit shifty sitting in Ranieri’s place at press conferences and in the dugout.
Shakespeare, with that permanent too-clever-by-half look about him, always appeared like a man who had been up to no good. But he could have got away with that, if results on the pitch had been decent enough.
Instead, the system refined by Ranieri to such an extent that the Foxes won the Premier League crown by ten points, has quietly been discarded.
There is a feeling captain Wes Morgan, so influential two seasons ago, is coming to the end. It is also an open secret that Wilfred Ndidi and Vicente Iborra, the two central midfielders brought in to do the job of N’Golo Kante, are not in the same class.
The dressing room dissenters, with Kasper Schmeichel and Jamie Vardy the biggest noises in camp, have been sounding off in recent weeks.
Shakespeare changed it up again on Monday, making the fatal error of shoving main striker Vardy out to the left to accommodate Kelechi Iheanacho.
They drew 1-1 with West Brom — not the worst result — but still one which left Leicester in the bottom three.
For Rudkin, it gave him good enough reason to get rid.
THE most striking thing about Lianne Sanderson’s evidence to Parliament is that she spoke without fear.
Former England star Sanderson stuck up for her mate Eni Aluko at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing, throwing herself at the mercy of a pack of parliamentary bloodhounds with a raw and passionate speech.
As she saw it, Aluko has been wronged by a system that has been ingrained through years of ignorance and mismanagement at every level.
It is people like Sanderson, no matter how much damage she did to the FA by lifting the lid on the culture around the place, who should play a major part in its reform.
Just because she does not mind her Ps and Qs is not a good enough reason to overlook her suitability when a new governance team starts to take shape.
Sanderson, 29, who has had her fair share of issues with England’s management team, went in there and told Government how it is.
With that kind of attitude, Sanderson should be in demand.
LUKE SHAW’S lamentable performance for Manchester United’s Under-23 side at West Ham has strained his relationship with Jose Mourinho even further.
Mourinho made Shaw travel to Lisbon for the Champions League clash with Benfica, but he did not stand a chance of making the bench.
Shaw, 22, barely lifted a leg in the 4-2 defeat against the Hammers’ second string and The Special One was livid with him for downing tools.
The left-back, earning £130,000-a-week, has made just one first team appearance this season — 45 minutes as a sub in the EFL Cup win over Burton Albion.
RONALD KOEMAN’S position at Everton is not the only one under review after a poor run of results at Goodison Park.
Steve Walsh, promoted in the game as a transfer wizard when he was at Leicester, is struggling to meet expectations at Everton.
Although Koeman was desperate to land Gylfi Sigurdsson, Walsh’s fingerprints are all over the other summer signings.
Despite chewing through the best part of £100million to beef up the squad, the Toffees are fifth from bottom of the Premier League.