Last laugh of Leicester City story falls to Claudio Ranieri

Leicester City's Cinderella story is now complete. It clinched its improbable English Premier League title on Monday night when Chelsea came back from two goals down to tie Tottenham, 2-2, in an often violent match that deprived Spurs of the three points it needed to stay in the title race.

Who saw the Leicester City championship coming when it hired Italian Claudio Ranieri last summer?

There is no Leicester City fan more famous than former England great Gary Lineker, now English soccer's No. 1 pundit, and he was underwhelmed by the hiring of the 64-year-old Ranieri.

“Claudio Ranieri is clearly experienced," Lineker said of the appointment, "but this is an uninspired choice by Leicester."

The Foxes are the 16th team Ranieri has coached in a 30-year coaching career. He won second division titles in Italy with Fiorentina and in France with Monaco, but except for a few other cup titles has had an undistinguished coaching career.

Ranieri was coming off his first stint with a national team when Leicester City hired him. He took over Greece after its run to the second round at the 2014 World Cup, but it didn't win a game in six Euro 2016 qualifiers and he was fired after a home loss to the tiny Faeroe Islands. In firing Ranieri, Greek federation president Giorgos Sarris took the blame for the "unfortunate choice of coaches."

Ranieri was a well-known quantity in England, where he spent four seasons at Chelsea without winning a title but the Blues improved each season and became perennial league contenders under his successor, Jose Mourinho, with many of the players he developed (John Terry and Frank Lampard, among others) or spotted (Didier Drogba). Terry captained Chelsea on Monday as it handed the EPL title to its former manager.

Four years after Mourinho took over at Chelsea, he ripped Ranieri: "He is almost 70 years old. He's old and he hasn't won anything." One wonder what Mourinho has to say now. He was fired just before Christmas -- two days after Chelsea lost to Leicester City -- while Ranieri is being hailed as a genius. More so than for players, coaches have a hard time earning respect.

"Let's not forget the reaction when he got the job," Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said on Monday Night Football. "He was laughed out of town, let's be honest. In the management game, there are very few people who are respected as winners and everyone else gets slaughtered, but Ranieri has been around for 20 years and managed big players at top clubs and he has missed out on trophies and we don't accept that as being a top manager."

Another pundit, Alan Smith, said Ranieri deserves all the credit he's going to get for taking a team of no-name players and turning them into champions.

"Finally now, he may get the credit he deserves," said Smith. "He will get the recognition because he has achieved something no other manager might. He will now never ever be forgotten and this story will be told in a hundred years time because this is so rare. You can't quite believe this has happened. There has to be a statue for Ranieri in the morning."

Ranieri was in Italy visiting his 96-year-old mother on Monday night. After the Chelsea-Tottenham game, he called Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink to thank him for Chelsea's second-half comeback. How effusive was Ranieri?

“I didn’t see any tears," said Hiddink, "because it was not a Facetime conversation but his voice was trembling a bit. He said five-times thanks.”

8 comments about "Last laugh of Leicester City story falls to Claudio Ranieri".
  1. Allan Lindh, May 2, 2016 at 9:35 p.m.

    So Leo Durocher was wrong -- sometimes nice guys do finish first. Wonder if that creep Mourinho has called to apologize?

  2. Wooden Ships replied, May 2, 2016 at 9:58 p.m.

    Agree with you Allan. Refreshing comes to mind. It would be a real improvement if Jose did reach out to him. Not sure he is old and wise enough yet.

  3. Kent James replied, May 3, 2016 at 12:52 a.m.

    Wooden, I'd bet the odds the Mourinho would call Ranieri are 5,000-1 against it happening (but evidently, miracles do sometimes happen, so I guess it's possible...)

  4. Kenneth Barr, May 2, 2016 at 11:45 p.m.

    Before the season he was odds on to be the first manager fired. How's that crow tasting, fellas?

  5. Ric Fonseca, May 3, 2016 at 2:46 a.m.

    Mourhino is like the spoiled brat who thought he won when he flat-out lost! Hey, I've an idea, maybe he can come to the Carson Galaxy when GM B.Arena, fires himself as Head Coach, to join up with the EPL "has-beens" currently in that team's roster? Anyhow, just sayin'...

  6. beautiful game, May 3, 2016 at 9:29 a.m.

    Who care about what was said. We should enjoy Leicester climb from bottom to to. Their consistent performances have to be applauded.

  7. ROBERT BOND, May 3, 2016 at 9:31 a.m.

    Neil Barnett on siriusxmfc was wondering why Clattenberg got the big matches & was one of 2 Brit refs doing Champions..."on my list of referees, he is last"....

  8. Fire Paul Gardner Now, May 3, 2016 at 11:17 a.m.

    Not sure why this article about Leicester's well-earned triumph turned into an opportunity to bash Mourinho.

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