Football

Claudio Ranieri is an underrated genius

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Who would have predicted Leicester City to be league leaders after 13 games?

The Foxes have lost just once so far this campaign and are playing a brilliant, attacking style of free-flowing football.

Jamie Vardy has been the talk of the town lately, with the striker scoring in ten consecutive matches, equalling Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record.

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Several other players like Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater and Marc Albrighton have also grabbed the limelight recently with some spectacular performances. However, much of Leicester’s astonishing success must be credited to manager Claudio Ranieri.

It has been the same story for most of his career, but the Italian manager remains the unsung hero of this triumph, with much of his work going unrecognised.

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Humble Beginnings

Ranieri made his managerial debut at a professional club with a small team called Campania Puteolana, but it was at Cagliari where he made a name for himself.

He managed to secure back-to-back promotions to the Serie A and his success with Cagliari caught the eye of heavyweights Napoli in 1991.

The Italian signed forward Gianfranco Zola - an instant hit at Naples, but despite playing some articulate football, Napoli failed to win any silverware, leading to his eventual sacking.

Ranieri then joined Fiorentina in 1993, where he enjoyed his first cup successes. After securing promotion to Serie A, they went on to win the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana the following year.

The tinkerman then moved to Spain, joining Valencia. He was extremely successful at the Spanish side, guiding the Oranges to Champions League qualification and winning the Copa Del Rey in 1999. The Italian's next conquest was in London to kick-start a new challenge with Chelsea.

Chelsea years

He remains one of the most underrated managers to have ever coached the Blues.

Ranieri was the man before the money, the man who built the foundation of something special, but could not stay long enough to complete the construction.

His successor, Jose Mourinho bagged all the plaudits for breaking the long trophy drought at Chelsea, whilst his predecessor's work was forgotten.

It was the Italian who revamped the squad and turned them into title contenders, bringing in players like William Gallas, Joe Cole and Claude Makelele to name a few.

Ranieri also nurtured and developed John Terry and Frank Lampard - the players who would go on to define Chelsea’s performances for the coming decade. The 64-year-old was, however, very unfortunate to not win any trophies for the Blues and this ultimately led to his sacking.

Back in Italy

After his stint at Chelsea, the Italian spent a solitary season back in Valencia before returning back to his native Italy, handling the management at Parma. He was appointed mid-season and the veteran manager did exceptionally well to steer the club away from a relegation dogfight, finishing the campaign in 12th position.

His heroics at Parma had caught the eye of Italian giants Juventus, who had just been promoted back to Serie A after the Calciopoli scandal.

In the following season of 2008-09, Ranieri’s Juve fought valiantly but fell short against Mourinho’s Inter as the side from Milan won the treble.

The Italian was sacked after that season by the Bianconeri and he moved to AS Roma. His subsequent years in Rome and then Inter were a relatively lull period, as his teams struggled to win any silverware. Ranieri was shown the door by the Nerazzurri in March 2012 after two wins in his last 13 games.

Stint at Monaco

Ranieri then made a trip from Italy to France and joined AS Monaco, who were a Ligue 2 side at the time and the Italian immediately got them promoted - winning the championship for the first time in their history.

In the following season, Monaco narrowly missed out on the title, with rivals Paris Saint-Germain edging it in the end. Failure to deliver trophies once again cost the Italian his job and he joined the Greek national team.

This was a catastrophic phase of his life as the manager was sacked after four games in charge and a shock home defeat to the Faroe Islands.

The veteran manager took time out of the game before returning to the Premier League in the summer, signing with the Foxes. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ranieri has been one of the most unfortunate and underappreciated managers of all time. His reign has seen teams play beautiful football and he has also helped develop several stalwarts of the game.

His downfall has been his struggles to deliver trophies. Despite all of these years in management, he is yet to win a first division league title and funnily enough, his current Leicester side might be the best chance he will get to achieve that goal.

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Topics:
Chelsea
Premier League
Football
Leicester City

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