Claudio Ranieri road to stardom did not start at Leicester, He was one charged with the task of rebuilding an ageing Chelsea team. Little or nothing was known of him when he was brought in to Stamford bridge to replace Gianluca Vialli by the then chairman and owner Ken Bates, Ken Bates was tired of top 6 finishes, the onus fell on Ranieri to at least better top 6 finish and qualify Chelsea for the UCL. Bulk of Chelsea starters were ageing, among them were Ed De Goey (GK), Frank Leboeuf (CB), Marcel Desailly (DF), Gus Poyet (MF), Denis Wise (MF), Roberto Di Matteo (MF), Gianfranco Zola (FW)…
The Tinkerman as he is popularly known tried to live up to his alias, tinkered with his Chelsea team and finally in his 3rd season 2002/03 qualified Chelsea for the UCL after finishing 4th on EPL log table behind Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle United, a tournament that have eluded Chelsea for a very long time. Qualifying for the UCL herald a new beginning in the history of Chelsea as the club was bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. It was Abramovich that saw off Ranieri to the exit door a season later, as his Abramovich quest for silverware intensified. Ranieri 4 seasons stint with Chelsea could not bring silverware , but he helped laid the foundation for the successes that followed, it was the core of the players such as John Terry, William Gallas, Claude Makelele, Sebastian Veron, Emmanuel Petit, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole etc either nurtured and/or bought by Ranieri that brought silverware for Mourinho, his successor.
Fast forward to more than a decade later, the Tinkerman was back this time, to Leicester. He was brought in at the start of 2015/16 to steady the ship of a team that narrowly escaped relegation. What ensued afterwards was a fairytale, a dream that became real, it was one of the most unlikely triumph in the history of football. Leicester against all odds beat the likes of Arsenalfc, Tottenham, and Manchester City to win the EPL. Leicester team was dubbed “The Unbelievables” replicating Arsenals “The Invisibles” alias. The Tinkerman achieved this feat with little known players such as Ngolo Kante, Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth, Kasper Schmeichel among others. The fairytale run ended the following season though, despite guiding the team to a maiden UCL quarter final exit another fantastic achievement for a UCL new comer, a run of poor result in domestic league saw Ranieri sacked. Ranieri will never be forgotten in the heart of fateful fans of the foxes.
It is barely 22 months since his EPL exit and he is back. This time with Fulham, a struggling London club which sit rock bottom with just 5 points in 12 EPL matches. Fulham has conceded 31 league goals with a poor return of just 11 scored. Will the Tinkerman pull another fairytale run, highly unlikely from where Fulham is sitting on EPL table, but who knows what next season holds.
One thing is certain, Ranieri never leaves without leaving a mark behind
I leave you with some of Ranieri’s funny session with the press during Leicester fairytale run in 2015/16. (skysports source)
•UCL – UEFA Champions League
•EPL – English Premier League
Thanks for your time., have a blessed day
post originally made to scorum