Singing the praises of Claudio Ranieri and Eddie Howe

by Andy Dillon / 11 February 2016, 11:24

The Sun's Andy Dillon (@andydillon70) looks at the achievements of both Leicester City's Claudio Ranieri and Bournemouth's Eddie Howe, and asks which manager has impressed the most this season...

...CLAUDIO RANIERI and Leicester City sit five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Eddie Howe's Bournemouth are five points clear of the relegation zone.

It is difficult to work out which is the greater achievement in the most unpredictable football season in twenty years.

Even when Blackburn Rovers enjoyed their moment in the spotlight by winning the 1995 title the club was bankrolled by millions of pounds of investment from owner Jack Walker.

This year the little guys are doing it for themselves.

Leicester's downright refusal to give into the establishment and accept their place among the also-rans in the top flight is remarkable and has captured the hearts and minds of the romantics among us.

Claudio Ranieri

Bournemouth's story is more for the pragmatists as they slug it out down near the bottom with their top flight future still hanging by a thread week in, week out as it will until May.

Whatever happens at Leicester now - whether they can hold on or whether they crumble, their season of immortality is secured.

At the very least European football is coming their way next season. With 13 Premier League games left it will take a spectacular implosion to see them finish empty-handed.

Most likely it will be the Champions League too and history made in the east Midlands. If they don't win the title there should still be an open-top bus parade around the town in celebration of their unprecedented achievement under boss Ranieri.

But for little Bournemouth the scrap goes on and nothing is certain for them until the last kick of the campaign.

Eddie Howe

Ranieri is proving an embarrassment for the likes of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City and Louis van Gaal at Man Utd.

Manager Howe is shaming huge clubs in Newcastle, Sunderland and Aston Villa as his Cherries top all of them in the table - in that mini-league fighting for survival down the bottom.

Ranieri feels no pressure - this is already his most successful season as a manager in English football.

It has been a remarkable turnaround at Leicester from last year built on a wave of confidence and several of his players enjoying the high points of their careers simultaneously.

Hero status is guaranteed regardless of what happens at this Sunday's showdown with Arsenal and beyond.

Yet should Bournemouth crumble and go down then it will be considered failure and the little team which has won us all over will probably disappear from sight; another Swindon Town or Bradford City.

Howe has had to contend with serious injury problems to key players: Captain Tommy Elphick and striker Calum Wilson. Ranieri has had one minor knock for striker Jamie Vardy.

Yet in the meantime Bournemouth have upset Chelsea and Manchester United and coped with the nerves - whipping fellow strugglers Norwich 3-0 and bagging an extraordinary away win at Crystal Palace.

Ranieri is riding the crest of a wave at Leicester, Bournemouth is on the coast but will be enduring nothing but choppy seas until the 38th game is done and the points totted up.

If Leicester go on to win the Premier League title and Bournemouth stay up which is the bigger feat? Or in this most bizarre of seasons should we consider the historic prospect of a joint award for manager of the year?

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