With the backing of the board, here’s how Ranieri stops the Leicester rot
He may well be favourite in the Premier League sack race, but Claudio Ranieri still has plenty of time to turn things around at Leicester City.
While the vote of confidence from the board is often dreaded in football management, you get the feeling it was just what the Italian boss needed right now.
Currently bottom of the form table, the reigning champions are putting up the worst title defence we’ve seen in the history of the Premier League and now just one point separates them from the drop zone.
Two of their next three league games are against Hull City and Swansea City. Those two sides currently occupy the 17th and 18th places in the table respectively.
And while the pair have been in great form following the arrival of their new managers, the Foxes know that two victories will help to further extend the gap between themselves and their relegation rivals.
Granted, that may be easier said than done, but if any boss knows how to rally his troops for one final push at the end of the season, it’s Ranieri.
Whatever approach they’ve tried so far this season clearly hasn’t worked.
They’re the champions of England, and everyone wants to beat them. Their counter-attacking style has been found out, and they’ve fast changed from being the team everyone wants to beat, to the team everyone expects to beat.
And that’ll suit Ranieri just fine.
It’s a situation they found themselves in more often than not last campaign, and we don’t need to remind you what happened there.
In short, they’re no good at being favourites – they’re better suited to the underdog label. And based on their form so far this year, that’s exactly what they’ll be as we head into the business stage of the season.
We know how great a role N’Golo Kante played for the East Midlands outfit last time out, and his loss will have had a massive impact on the team.
But Kante didn’t win the Premier League trophy on his own.
Nine of the 11 players who started Leicester’s last game against Manchester United were here for the ride last term as well.
Yes, there’s an argument that the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have been shadows of their former selves, but they didn’t score 41 league goals between them by accident last year.
Whether they like it or not, Leicester are fighting for their lives right now. And there’s no way they will have expected to have found themselves in this position at the start of the season.
But even if we dismiss their title-winning campaign as pure luck, there are enough players in this squad right now who’ve been in this current position before – as recently as two years ago.
They looked destined for the drop back in 2014-15, before defying all the odds and dragging themselves to a respectable 14th placed finish under Nigel Pearson.
Kasper Schmeichel was in that side. As was Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan and Robert Huth. So was Danny Drinkwater, Andy King and Marc Albrighton. Vardy and Mahrez were there too.
So it’s time to rubbish all talk about this squad not being experienced enough to deal with their current situation.
They’re actually probably the most equipped squad in the bottom half of the table.
Champions League football is nice, but it’s by no means a priority.
There’s no talk of a dressing room bust-up, their key players – having signed contract extensions back in the summer – clearly want to be there, and they have one of the most respected managers in the division.
Put recent form to one side and look at the table right now. Look at the quality in depth of each squad and look at the men in charge.
This isn’t a side that’s destined for the drop. They just need a lucky break.
And that may just come at the perfect time of the season.
A message to the players? Ignore the gold Premier League badge on your sleeve, it counts for nothing right now.
It’s the one on the front of your shirt which matters the most.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing