From having barely avoided relegation last season to fighting for glory the very next year, Leicester City’s Premier League journey has been a remarkable one.
Five rounds until the end of domestic campaign and the Foxes are sitting top of the league with 72 points next to their name, seven more than Tottenham Hotspur in second place and with one hand on the Premier League trophy.
As surprising as it would have sounded last summer, Leicester City are currently standing at the odds of 1/6 to lift the Premier League title at the end of the season and they have one man to credit for their stellar success – Claudio Ranieri.
Known as ‘the Tinkerman’ in recognition of his tendency to make sudden, unexpected and often unnecessary changes to tactics and line-ups, Claudio Ranieri has been regarded as a highly surprising choice upon his arrival to King Power Stadium.
The Italian tactician will have the incident involving Leicester City’s youth players and manager Nigel Pearson’s son to thank for the opportunity, as Foxes decided to part ways with the manager who successfully saved the club from relegation in the 2014-15 season.
Ranieri grabbed the chance with both hands
Only sixteen months ago, the Italian manager was left with shattered reputation after being sacked by the Greek national team following a stunning 1-0 home defeat to the Faroe Islands.
He spent eight months licking his wounds when Leicester City came knocking to his door offering Ranieri the chance for a return to England after 11-year absence. Claudio Ranieri managed Chelsea from September 2000 to June 2004, guiding the Blues to the Champions League semi-finals and FA Cup final during his spell at Stamford Bridge.
Despite the best league finish in 50 years, Chelsea decided to part ways with Ranieri mercilessly and the Italian had some unfinished business in England he is en route to complete this year with the Foxes. Worn out by the media, barraged and forced to endure the never-quite-proven manager’s tag on his back, Claudio Ranieri used a different approach at Leicester in order to succeed in his second English spell.
Renowned for his sudden tactical changes and team shifts, Claudio Ranieri did nothing upon arrival at Leicester and that has perhaps been the wisest decision he has ever made.
“He came in the first week, introduced himself and then didn’t say anything for the following week”, Leicester keeper Schmeichel reveals Ranieri’s unusual approach that immediately won over players.
He beat the urge to meddle and watched from the side. A tweak here and there and a gentle switch to 4-4-2 was all Ranieri did to his squad that had from that moment on been galvanized in their Premier League fairy tale journey.
As a group of experienced players, journeyman footballers and a couple of hidden gems that just needed some polishing up, Claudio Ranieri made all the right moves to bring the best of his team and lead them to fantastic success that will be long remembered.
“Togetherness” has been Ranieri’s secret weapon
A football romantic, an emotional man who is not afraid to shed a tear in the middle of the pitch, Claudio Ranieri played to his player’s emotions to bring up unity, togetherness and lift the collective spirit of the team in a common purpose.
Leicester City have become an alternative for a modern-day football team. It has become remarkable to watch Leicester City players defy the odds with their dedicated performances and committed displays against more quality sides in the Premier League.
Calmness and humility combined with the passion for the game itself and not the media circus surrounding it, Claudio Ranieri has set a brilliant example with his handling of the press and the pressure. You will not hear him criticize his players in public, you will not hear him dwell into the title talk, but you can always see him smiling and extending praises towards his men.
From the football point of view, Ranieri has exercised a perfect tactical practice
The Italian has recognized strengths and weaknesses of his every player and utilised them to build a lethal team that would use every chance they get to punish you with incredible pace, stamina and precision.
Creativity of Ryad Mahrez has put an extra spice to the team’s play, while Jamie Vardy’s raw, unpolished and robust style brought a fatal edge to Ranieri’s squad.
With every man fully prepared and ready to step in and give his contribution, Claudio Ranieri has forged his team upon the mutual trust and respect which is getting more apparent with every game Foxes play in the closing stages of the season.
Claudio Ranieri is on the right path to prove his doubters wrong and to rectify his ruined image of a world-class tactician.
Having beaten Sunderland 2-0 last weekend, Foxes secured the Champions League football next season and that is the Tinkerman’s first prize for all the great work he has done so far.
The main one is within his reach though and Claudio Ranieri, more than anyone else in the Premier League this season, deserves to have it.