Leicester hire Claudio Ranieri as new manager

Leicester City sprang a major surprise by hiring former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri as their new manager on Monday.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 13, 2015, 22:53 PM IST
Leicester hire Claudio Ranieri as new manager

London: Leicester City sprang a major surprise by hiring former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri as their new manager on Monday.

Ranieri makes his shock return to the English top-flight after emerging as the preferred choice of the club`s Thai owners to replace the sacked Nigel Pearson.

The 63-year-old Italian agreed a three-year contract at King Power Stadium and has been charged with building on the foundations left by Pearson, who saved Leicester from relegation last season despite a series of bizarre incidents involving the controversial boss.

After Pearson`s dismissal last month, following a breakdown in his relationship with Leicester`s owners, the club had been linked with a host of high-profile replacements including Martin O`Neill and Guus Hiddink.

O`Neill was believed to be close to agreeing to return to his old club over the weekend, but issues regarding his exit from his current role as Republic of Ireland manager scuppered that deal.

Former Inter Milan and Valencia boss Ranieri then became Leicester`s top target and his return to the Premier League was quickly rubber-stamped.

"I`m so glad to be here in a Club with such a great tradition as Leicester City," Ranieri said.

"I have worked at many great clubs, in many top leagues, but since I left Chelsea I have dreamt of another chance to work in the best league in the world again.

"I wish to thank the owner, his son and all the executives of the Club for the opportunity they are giving me.

"Now I`ve only one way for returning their trust: squeeze all my energies to getting the best results for the team."

Ranieri hasn`t worked in English football since 2004, when he was sacked by Chelsea, and was also dismissed from his last job as Greece manager last year.

He was axed by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to make way for Jose Mourinho after finishing second in the Premier League and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in his final season at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian was famously nicknamed `the tinkerman` for his habit of constantly making tactical changes at Chelsea.

Now Ranieri will be under pressure to ensure Leicester stay away from negative headlines after Pearson`s colourful reign.

Pearson was involved in several incidents, including calling a journalist an "ostrich", clashing with Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur during a match and telling a Leicester fan to "fuck off and die".

Then in June, Pearson`s son James was one of three players sacked by the club for their involvement in a racist sex tape, while on a tour in Thailand - home of the club`s billionaire owners, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and son Aiyawatt.

Despite Ranieri`s decade away from the Premier League, Aiyawatt believes the veteran, who has also had spells at Juventus, Monaco, Atletico Madrid and Roma, is the right man to maintain Leicester`s progress.

"It is my great pleasure to welcome Claudio Ranieri - a man of remarkable experience and knowledge that will lead us into the next phase of our long-term plan for Leicester City,"

"His achievements in the game, his knowledge of English football and his record of successfully coaching some of the world`s finest players made him the outstanding candidate for the job and his ambitions for the future reflect our own.

"To have attracted one of the world`s elite managers speaks volumes both for the progress Leicester City has made in recent years and for the potential that remains for the Club`s long-term development."

Ranieri met the Leicester squad on Monday and will remain with the group for the rest of their training camp in Austria.

He will see the squad in action for the first time on July 21 when Leicester begin their pre-season friendly schedule with a trip to Lincoln.