Claudio Ranieri is back….
The coach who gained legendary status back in the 2015-16 is now back in the Premier League, the very league in which he made the greatest sporting achievement of all time. The Italian manager was the man who orchestrated Leicester City’s absolutely remarkable title charge 3 seasons ago. As the team that pulled off one of the greatest relegation escapes of all time, it was 1/5000 odds of Leicester City winning the title the following season. To those drunk betters who thought it would be funny to bet on the Foxes, they should feel greatly indebted to the well-traveled Ranieri. We will take a look at that stunning season and what to expect from his time at Fulham.
Leicester City’s Premier League Title
When you look at all of the winners the Premier League has ever had, you would be surprised with what you see. Since its implementation to English football in 1992, there has only been 6 winners in that 26 year span. Dominating most titles are English powerhouses Manchester United, Arsenal, and most recently Chelsea and Manchester City. When you look at that list there are 2 clubs that stick out. The first is Blackburn Rovers, who actually had a golden period at some point, which will be surprising for new football fans as they now ply their trade in the 2nd tier of English football. The other is Leicester City, who won the title after being projected to finish 20th by almost every pundit. When Arsenal played Leicester in the 2014-15 season, the Foxes were dead last and Arsenal made a statement saying that by the way they’re playing, they won’t be last for much longer. What followed was the greatest achievement in sports history.
After sealing another season in the Premier League with a great escape from the relegation zone, Ranieri rallied his troops and propelled to the top of the table come May of the next year. Ranieri gifted his side a 23-12-3 record, good enough for 81 points, finishing 10 points above 2nd placed Arsenal. How did he do it? There are many theories of how he managed this success, with many even claiming he just got lucky one year. What worked for him was a solid foundation of players in each position that each had a specific strength. This foundation is found in most teams; however, Ranieri made sure it was never broken by keeping the same lineup almost every match. Building his team around captain Wes Morgan, N’golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, he had superstars in each position. These individuals led by example and were able to grow because of the chemistry that many managers do not seem to instill into their squads. The following season, Leicester started with what was the worst title defense in the history of the Premier League, leading to Ranieri’s sack in 2017. He eventually sealed a move to Nantes where he has been ever since.. Until now
What to Expect at Fulham
Claudio Ranieri has one of the most impressive CVs of any manager, gracing some of the top sides in top leagues since 1986. This job at Fulham is one different than any other managerial role he has ever had. At Leicester, he built a dynasty within just 2 short years, now at Fulham, his job is now damage control for the rest of the season.
No one should be betting on a title charge from Fulham in the second half of the season and it may even be unrealistic to expect major change. The problem with Fulham is not going to be the manager, it is the great influx of players they acquired in the offseason in a bid to compete with England’s best. The team lacks chemistry, the one thing Ranieri tried to instill in his Leicester squad. All of the new big money signings are still adapting to England and each other, the goal for the manager will be a 17th place finish, securing safety. Ranieri, unlike managers like Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew, is not at Fulham for just damage control and then plans to leave, he will aim to build his Fulham squad using chemistry and his experience with English football already. To expect immediate results in unrealistic, but for Fulham fans, the Cottagers may have just gotten their man for the future.
Written by: Andrew Diefenderfer