Who would have thought at the beginning of the season, that Leicester would be in second spot at this stage led by Claudio Ranieri?
Many, when he was appointed, were shocked and dismayed. The popular Nigel Pearson who, although controversial, had managed to keep the club up and lead them onto a run of form to put them midtable had been axed, while Ranieri hardly had a good track record going into the season. Many knew him from his time as Chelsea manager between 2000 and 2004, but since then he had jumped from club to club with Valencia, Parma, Juventus, Roma, Inter Milan and Monaco all on his CV. Although he did win a league title at Monaco (Ligue 2, to be precise), these spells were hardly trophy laden. At most of these clubs he ended up getting the sack, and this was true for his penultimate job before Leicester… Greece. With the Greek national side he had an easy qualifying group for EURO 2016 and was expected to take the club to France this coming summer. However a loss to the Faroe Islands meant this was not the case. Ranieri was sacked and many were wondering what his next steps would be.
Well as we know those next steps were to take the managers reigns at Leicester, and Ranieri has helped to transform their current squad into stars, stars that have caught the public eye and the eyes of those bigger clubs. Players like Jamie Vardy (whom I hear is having a party) and Riyad Mahrez have become some of the league’s big names. Vardy himself went onto beat Ruud Van Nisterlrooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive games (he bagged 11 in 11), and now at the age of 29 has subsequently been linked with big clubs like Manchester United. Ranieri as a manager not only instilled confidence in his current players, but added quality that to help make them look better.
Players like N’Golo Kante, whom has walked into most fans’ ‘team of the season’ so far has been an unsung hero for the club, while Shinji Okazaki has been a great goal poacher. Christian Fuchs has been excellent, too, providing some solidity at the back.
The team have got results when it matters, taking points from Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – illustrating that they are a force to be reckoned with. Should they now not get a European spot, it will be a disappointment due to the hard work so far. Therefore it is no wonder that Ranieri has been linked to the top jobs.
But should he be linked with the Chelsea job? After all, his previous jobs have not worked out how he wanted them to, yet at Chelsea he did win the FA Cup and had started to build a good squad. All his hard work at Leicester has been helped by individuals within the team and fans getting behind the XI on the pitch, roaring them on. With the Blues’ revolving door policy, would Ranieri get enough time to do the same in west London? If he had one slip up at the top then he would quickly be booted out again.
I think what makes him a special figure is the fact he has done this with Leicester, where the only real aim was to survive the drop, meaning that he could easily beat those objectives and get the team to do so. Whether or not he himself would want to move to a top job is another issue, but surely having this successful team it would be stupid to leave.