A wagering deluge has seen Claudio Ranieri emerge as a surprise favourite to take over from Nigel Pearson as next Leicester City manager.
The Italian has more football teams on the ‘clubs managed’ section of his CV than there are in most leagues, yet his only experience of the English game came at Chelsea, where his arrival pre-dated that of Roman Abramovich.
Out of work since being sacked by Greece after overseeing a farcical start to Euro 2016 qualification, seeing Ranieri’s name in the running for a Premier League return, with a side forecast to be battling doom in the lower echelons no less, initially strikes as a bizarre move.
But scratching below the surface reveals the coach whose obsession with squad rotation at Stamford Bridge earned him the nickname ‘the Tinkerman’ is a pretty savvy short-term troubleshooter.
His 199 games at the Blues helm was his longest stint in charge to date and in this period he secured the Champions League qualification required to convince Abramovich to invest his billions into the club and steered them to what was a record Premier League finish of second in 2003/04 before being replaced by Jose Mourinho.
He returned to Valencia for a second and significantly less successful spell afterwards, before taking the reigns of crisis club Parma in 2007.
They sat in the second lowest spot in Serie A upon Ranieri’s appointment, but finished the campaign in 12th having almost trebled their points tally.
He transformed Roma from Scudetto no-hopers into near champions in 2009/10, finishing two points behind Mourinho’s Inter team, backed with greater financial power and stocked with world-beating superstars, while two years prior to this he oversaw Juventus’ return to the Champions League after their Serie B exile.
A season-long stint at Inter followed, where he took over in late September of 2011/12 after a dire start and took the club to within three points of a top-four finish, before moving to Monaco where, with some slight financial assistance, he masterminded the club’s return to Ligue 1 title contention.
This record of shortsighted success and excellent experience is what renders Ranieri a great option for Leicester.
The Foxes’ perpetual state of off field turmoil cost them a manager halfway through the summer, meaning pre-season plans have been concocted by a team of people who may well be relieved of duties under the new regime, whereas recruitment has been shelved.
Leicester finished the previous season strongly, but another year of battling the drop is in store, yet, while their rivals formulate survival schemes and rationalise how best to use their assets, they’re wasting time looking for a new manager.
To combat this, whoever they do appoint must be a veteran deliverer of short-term success, or their 3/1 price for relegation this term will rapidly appreciate in value.