After masterminding one of the greatest achievements in the history of the sport, Claudio Ranieri has been rewarded with a new four year contract. Leicester City have been renewing the contracts of a lot of the playing squad, giving them pay rises to reflect the club’s rise over the last 12 months. Therefore it was to be expected that Ranieri was going to receive similar treatment and be given better terms ahead of the club’s title defence.
He arrived at the club with relatively little fanfare and supporters were underwhelmed with the Italian, who had just ended a disastrous spell in charge of Greece. Gary Linekar was a notable critic on Twitter when it was announced that Ranieri was going to replace Nigel Pearson last summer. Leicester were tipped for relegation by many at the beginning of last season, but Ranieri got them playing effectively from day one and the rest is history.
The Italian has managed some of the biggest clubs in the world including Chelsea, Inter Milan and Juventus, but his first league title came with plucky Leicester City. It was a great achievement, which is unlikely to be matched for a very long time. Ranieri is a likeable man and Leicester’s success was made more enjoyable as a result of him being at the helm.
Throughout his career, Ranieri has been a manager who has moved around a lot. He has held 17 managerial posts and his longest stint was in charge of Fiorentina, where he managed for four seasons. He has never been seen as a top tier coach, and has been appointed at clubs to steady the ship in the short term.
This was reflected when Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea. He allowed Ranieri to remain at the club for the first season and the results were good. The Italian led Chelsea to 2nd in the league and to the semi-finals of the Champions League, but the Russian billionaire decided that Ranieri wasn’t good enough to take the Blues to the top of the Premier League. The Italian has finally proven all his critics wrong about his ability to win titles and did so in the most extraordinary fashion.
His new contract is well deserved and allows Leicester to enter the new season with stability, which is needed ahead of their toughest campaign to date. Many of the Leicester squad have been linked away over the summer, but Ranieri himself has been touted for bigger jobs since he took over at the KP Stadium. He was linked with a return to Chelsea around Christmas time and was named as one of the candidates for the England job after Roy Hodgson’s resignation. It was important for Leicester to tie him down and allow him to continue the good work he has been doing at the club.
Although Ranieri didn’t make wholesale changes at the club last summer, he brought a winning mentality to the club and offered a tactical knowledge that was lacking under Nigel Pearson. It is impossible to tell if Leicester would have won the league under Pearson, but Ranieri appeared to offer a calming influence to the dressing room and never allowed the side to get complacent. He kept targets minimal and refused to get carried away with talk of the title. That turned out to be vital and his knowledge of the European game will be important this season as Leicester enter the Champions League for the first time in their history.
Leicester need to remain realistic this season and understand that there is likely to be a drop off in performance. It would take another near miracle to finish in the top four, never mind retain their title. There are a lot of new managers coming into the league with elite pedigree and it is unlikely that the top sides will underachieve like they did last season. The Foxes have made some good additions and with Ranieri, they have the right man to establish the club as a top half Premier League side. They also have a great opportunity to attack the Champions League and aim for the knockout rounds after being seeded first for the group stages. If Leicester don’t get carried away and demand success beyond what can be realistically achieved, they have the foundations of becoming a very good Premier League side and Ranieri is central to that.
— The Boot Room (@tbrfootball) August 10, 2016
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