Ranieri’s reign in Nantes has come to a typically dramatic end as the Tinkerman dared the club to sack him in response to the president’s description of him as “unprofessional”. The cause of the tension was the manager’s failure to attend the club’s 75th anniversary party and Ranieri’s explanation that his “chauffeur went the wrong way”.
This spat may have just been the tip of the iceberg, however, as Nantes had looked comfortable in fifth place for most of the season before a dramatic fall from grace in the final two months saw them finish in ninth, two places lower but with one point more than the previous season.
It cannot be said that Ranieri’s single season in France was a failure, especially as the club only retained their Ligue 1 position in 2014. It was more the stature of the job than the performance that prevented this season from overshadowing Ranieri’s emotional departure from Leicester.
Ever since the Tinkerman stopped tinkering and produced one of the best counter-attacking teams the Premier League has ever seen, he has been under assault from the more cynical corners of British football.
Craig Shakespeare was the real genius, without Steve Walsh they were nothing, Leicester were lucky; these were the three most common theories expressed during the club’s groundbreaking season and as Leicester sank ever closer to the relegation zone the following year, Ranieri drifted into a media storm that swept him across the channel to Nantes.
Ranieri’s highs and lows
After his 4-year stint at Chelsea from 2000-2004, Ranieri’s career failed to take off despite an array of high profile appointments, and his last job before joining Leicester in 2015 was that of Greece’s head coach, which ended with a harrowing defeat against the Faroe Islands. It was from this lowly position that the Italian’s career shot to the stars as he took a Premier League team, supposedly destined for relegation, to their first ever league title.
In the following season Leicester’s domestic form nose-dived, yet Ranieri’s final game was a 2-1 away defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of a Champions League knock-out tie, one they would go on to win 3-2 on aggregate under Craig Shakespeare. Despite their remarkable European campaign, the foxes were threatened with relegation and the owners acted decisively, a decision that was seen as the right one until Shakespeare himself was sacked after only 4 months.
A second resurrection?
After his year in Nantes, Ranieri is once again out of a job and seeking his 18th managerial role. A respectable mid-table finish in France has not distracted from his time at Leicester and he still retains his reputation as inconsistent and overly eccentric.
Having brought a Premier League title and an unprecedented Champions League quarter-final to the East Midlands, Ranieri should currently be one of the most sought-after managers in world football. He is instead being linked to the vacant position at Leeds Utd in England’s second tier.
Whilst his time at Nantes did not dent Ranieri’s reputation, the nature of his departure suggests that he is craving the main stage once more. Will we see a return of the Tinkerman? Will it be in the Championship or the top flight? Only time will tell but I think I speak for all of us when I say that the ringer of the “dilly ding dilly dong” would be welcomed back with open arms.