Much has been written about the incredible feat that was attained by the modest Leicester City last season. A team that fought to not descend, managed to come up with the title of champion of the all-powerful Premier League, ahead of the multi-millionaire budgets of City, Arsenal, United and company. This success is ultimately what brought Ranieri’s downfall.
The veteran coach, previously dubbed the tinker-man, took the reins of this modest club in the summer of 2015. In his first season he transformed it into champion and this merit served him well, as he was later awarded Coach of the Year by FIFA.
On the 23rd of February this year, Leicester City announced their farewell to Ranieri. A decision that arrived after five consecutive defeats in the Premier League, it generated an endless number of reactions, in which the Italian was mainly praised and both players and the rest of the club’s staff were blamed for the situation.
It was a bad run of seven defeats in nine matches in all competitions in which the Italian coach was involved. The rest you already know: Craig Shakespeare took the reins and since then the champions of England have achieved six wins out of six (a winning streak cut-off by the defeat against Everton today), including the qualification for the quarterfinals of the Champions League. And this team has begun to show flickers of the one that amazed everyone last season.
“I could not imagine that we were going to achieve this winning streak, especially when I saw the games that were waiting for us. But it has not been easy, I have not been calm until the end,” said the coach only a few days ago.
But how has the team, and more importantly, the results and performances, changed so much if the only difference from last year is the presence of Ndidi instead of Kanté?
One of the keys for the recent impressive run is that Shakespeare was able to return the team to the essence of its game, being simpler, especially in training, as Ranieri had changed things with longer training sessions. He also participates in warm-ups, something unusual for coaches, and players give him more credit.
In addition, he has settled this group in the 4-4-2 scheme, with Jamie Vardy and Okazaki in attack, so the balance has been restored to the team, which is evident by their 15 goals scored and only 4 conceded. Now, after Everton today, his next challenge will be none other than Atlético Madrid in the Champions League.