Back in the summer of 2015, Premier League outfit Leicester City confirmed that they had appointed Claudio Ranieri as their new manager.
The 67-year-old took over at the King Power Stadium following the departure of Nigel Pearson earlier in the close season, this all despite the Englishman leading the Foxes to a remarkable relegation escape as they finished 14th in the Premier League under the 55-year-old, despite being bottom and seven points adrift of safety in mid-March.
Yet it was up to former Chelsea boss Ranieri to build on that momentum heading into the 2015/16 season, although it was an appointment which left many Leicester fans divided on Twitter, with some happy and others very much not at the Italian’s arrival…
@OfficialFOXES disastrous wrong Choice
— Andy moss (@andymossups) July 13, 2015
— Dave Wagstaff (@lcfcwaggy) July 13, 2015
— Sam Merton (@sammerts) July 13, 2015
@OfficialFOXES Ranieri’s blue and white army
— Brady (@LBrady97) July 13, 2015
— jason white (@Jason2212White) July 13, 2015
@OfficialFOXES very experience and has managed some world class teams, can’t be bad
— QAHC (@QahcLail) July 13, 2015
Have you took leave of your senses?@OfficialFOXES
— Clive Howe (@cliveeh) July 13, 2015
— Lloyd Vaughan (@MrLloydVaughan) July 13, 2015
But what Ranieri went on to achieve with Leicester that season was something quite extraordinary, and while it ended with his sacking in February 2017, there is no doubting whatsoever that the Foxes pulled off a masterstroke in appointing in the 67-year-old.
Ultimately, Ranieri had quite the job on his hands succeeding Pearson given how impressive his Foxes team was in the latter stages of the 2014/15 season, winning seven of their last nine Premier League matches to eventually beat off relegation with relative ease.
Yet there was some scepticism among supporters given the 67-year-old’s poor record in charge of Greece in his previous managerial role, what with Ranieri failing to win any of his four games in charge of the national team, including an embarrassing home defeat to the Faroe Islands in November 2014 – it was an appointment then that did raise a few eyebrows.
But those doubters were soon proven wrong in the most remarkable of styles as Ranieri guided Leicester to the most unbelievable of Premier League title triumphs in the 2015/16 campaign, winning 23 and losing just three of their 38 league games to end up a staggering ten points clear of second place Arsenal – it has gone down as one of the most remarkable achievements in sport.
And Ranieri certainly deserves great credit for the way he played to the strengths of his players at the King Power Stadium – they didn’t have much of the ball in most of the games they played, but they defended magnificently and, in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, they had players who could seriously hurt opposition defenders at the other end.
And to win the league at a canter in the end, finishing well clear of second place Arsenal, was testament to what the 67-year-old created at Leicester that season – the team spirit and desire to work for each other was clear for all to see, and it eventually helped win them the Premier League.
Yes, the season after was a testing one for the Foxes, as it was always likely to be, with the addition of the Champions League as well as the jump in expectation contributing to a difficult season, and one that might well have resulted in relegation had Leicester not relieved Ranieri of his duties in February 2017.
At the time, the Midlanders had reached the last-16 of the Champions League, having progressed through the group with consummate ease, but five defeats in a row in the Premier League left the Foxes just a point clear of the bottom three – arguably, they would have gone down had they kept hold of Ranieri.
Yet that tricky campaign, which Craig Shakespeare eventually salvaged by leading Leicester to 12th place in the table, simply won’t ever detract from what Ranieri achieved during his time at the King Power Stadium – it wasn’t an appointment met with overwhelming positivity, but the Italian’s time at the club is one Leicester fans will never forget.
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