Leicester City - Premier League champions 2015/16.
Nobody could have predicted it - apart from those few lucky people that put money on the 5000/1 shot at the start of the season.
But, with just six matches remaining, the Foxes are seven points clear in their quest for Premier League glory. Remarkable.
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When Italian manager Claudio Ranieri was appointed in the summer, some even predicted that they would get relegated - especially considering their narrow escape the previous campaign.
What’s the secret behind their sensational season? Their manager has revealed all in a brilliantly written blog.
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Ranieri arrived at the King Power Stadium after a terrible spell in charge of Greece’s national side where he lasted less than four months. Three defeats, including a loss against Faroe Islands, in his four matches saw his side fail to qualify for Euro 2016.
Meeting with the chairman
So, it’s hardly surprising that Leicester chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha wasn’t too ambitious in his aims in his pre-season meeting with the new boss.
“I remember my first meeting with the chairman when I arrived at Leicester City this summer,” Ranieri wrote on The Players Tribune.
“He sat down with me and said, “Claudio, this is a very important year for the club. It is very important for us to stay in the Premier League. We have to stay safe.
“Forty points. That was the goal. That was the total we needed to stay in the first division, to give our fans another season of Premier League football,” he added.
Ranieri and his side have easily surpassed that and, in fact, could finish with more than double that amount.
But how has Ranieri got the best out of his squad?
Inspirational team talk
The former Chelsea manager recalls what he said to his players before the first match of the season.
“I told the players, ‘I want you to play for your teammates,” he revealed.
“We are a little team, so we have to fight with all our heart, with all our soul. I don’t care the name of the opponent. All I want is for you to fight. If they are better than us, Okay, congratulations. But they have to show us they are better.’”
That motivational team talk epitomises Leicester's campaign as they have brushed aside the so-called 'bigger clubs.'
Vardy isn't a footballer
There have been a number of standout players for Leicester this season but Jamie Vardy’s goals have hit the headlines. The 29-year-old has scored 19 goals in the Premier League and has earned himself an England call-up.
Ranieri explained what he said to the former Fleetwood striker, including a rather strange comparison.
“Jamie Vardy, for example. This is not a footballer. This is a fantastic horse,” he said.
“He has a need to be free out there on the pitch. I say to him, ‘You are free to move however you want, but you must help us when we lose the ball. That’s all I ask of you. If you start to press the opposition, all of your teammates will follow you.’”
Read the full blog post from Ranieri, here: http://www.theplayerstribune.com/claudio-ranieri-leicester-city-premier-league/
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