Claudio Ranieri is reaping the rewards for a deal he made last summer with Leicester City’s players shortly after he arrived as its new manager.
Ranieri revealed some secrets to Leicester City’s unexpected rise to the top of the Premier League standings Monday in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, according to Football Italia. Ranieri, 64, explained his decisions to shun tactical dogma and emphasize team unity and rest within the first six weeks of his tenure have helped Leicester City author one of the soccer world’s all-time great underdog stories, in which the Foxes defy expectations of relegations and lead the challenge for the Premier League title, instead.
“When speaking to the players, I realized they were afraid of Italian tactical approaches,” Ranieri told Corriere della Sera. “What football means to an Italian coach is tactics, trying to control the game by following the ideas and systems of the manager …
“They (Leicester City) didn’t seem convinced and neither was I. I have a lot of admiration for those who build new tactical systems, but I always thought the most important thing a good coach must do is build the team around the characteristics of his players.
“So I told the players that I trusted them and would speak very little of tactics. It was important to me that they all ran hard, just as I’d seen them running towards the end of last season.”
Ranieri’s Foxes press harder and attack more directly than most other top-flight teams. The taxing approach would drain any team over a marathon season, but Ranieri maintain’s Leicester City’s freshness by limiting practice sessions.
“I make sure the players have at least two days off from football each week,” Ranieri said. “This is the pact I made the first day with the players, ‘I trust you. I’ll explain some football ideas to you every now and then, as long as you give me everything (physically).’
“I don’t think it’s an ideal solution, but football is not chemistry, it doesn’t have set rules that work universally. What matters is getting the best out of the squad you have.
Other managers undoubtedly will copy Ranieri, but the chances of them catching his team this season are slim. Leicester City leads the Premier League title chase by six points with just 13 games remaining in the season, thanks to Ranieri’s shrewd compromise.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@premierleague
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