Claudio Ranieri’s jovial character may have endeared him to many in the Premier League this season but Graeme Le Saux says the Leicester City manager also has a serious side.
The Italian has masterminded a sensational turnaround at the King Power Stadium, and the Foxes stand on the brink of history with three games remaining.
Victory against Manchester United on Sunday would seal a momentous league title for Leicester – the first in their history – a stark contrast to last season when they were battling for survival under Nigel Pearson.
Ranieri’s arrival was met with scepticism by some but he has proved everybody wrong, while keeping people entertained in his news conferences with his eccentric outbursts.
But Le Saux – who played under Ranieri at Chelsea – says the 64-year-old is very different away from the public eye.
“That’s all veneer, don’t be fooled, that’s part design,” said Le Saux.
“He’s a very shrewd operator and he wouldn’t shirk a big decision. Behind the smile there’s a ruthless football manager, a guy who is happy to make big decisions.
“At Leicester he hasn’t had to, the team picks itself. He’s not had to deal with dropping big names and moving people on.
“Once he’s established his team and his shape, he’s been the polar opposite to what we were calling him, the Tinkerman.”