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Opinion: How Claudio Ranieri went from ‘tinkerman’ to no laughing matter

As his Leicester City side now sit just one victory away from winning the Premier League title, Claudio Ranieri deserves all the praise he is receiving.

The Foxes began the season as 5,000-1 outsiders for the title, but are now within touching distance of pulling off one of the biggest surprises in football history.

On a limited budget and coming off a season in which the club escaped relegation, it is a remarkable achievement for the Italian tactician to now finally be on the brink of his first major league title.

Aside from his cup success in Italy and Spain and three successful promotion campaigns, Ranieri has always fallen short at the highest level, and it is something that he touched upon earlier this week.

Throughout his career he has been labelled a ‘nearly-man’, with former foe Jose Mourinho never shy of reminding Ranieri about his failings.

“Ranieri? I guess he’s right with what he said I am very demanding of myself and I have to win to be sure of things,” he told reporters. “This is why I have won so many trophies in my career.

“Ranieri on the other hand has the mentality of someone who doesn’t need to win. He is almost 70 years old. He has won a Supercup and another small trophy and he is too old to change his mentality.

“He’s old and he hasn’t won anything. I studied Italian five hours a day for many months to ensure I could communicate with the players, media and fans. Ranieri had been in England for five years and still struggled to say ‘good morning’ and ‘good afternoon.'”

From finishing second with Chelsea at a time when he was rebuilding the squad given the financial boost from Roman Abramovich, to arriving two games into a Serie A season with Roma still looking for their first points of the campaign, only to miss out on the Scudetto by two points to Inter.

Having helped rebuild Juventus on their return to the Italian top flight, a second-placed finish behind Paris Saint-Germain during his time at Monaco followed, and so perhaps there is an element of misfortune that has followed the 64-year-old throughout his career.

It appears as though he has finally settled at the King Power Stadium, building a tight-knit group that has exceeded all expectations and they have been a refreshing change to the landscape of the Premier League.

Their defensive solidity coupled with the development of key players such as N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have been key, and a huge part of those improvements has been Ranieri’s influence.

Despite many doubting that they would have the ‘bottle’ to maintain their title push, they have done so and few will doubt that they will pick up the required result after Tottenham slipped up at home to West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.

For a man loved by the media and supporters alike, Ranieri will be desperate to end years of coming second best and will hope to wrap things up at Old Trafford against Manchester United on Sunday.

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