Bonkers Claudio Ranieri backed to sprinkle his magic on struggling Fulhamby Andy Dillon / 14 November 2018, 14:02Tweet
At first glance Fulham’s decision to give Claudio Ranieri a way back into management may look a rather dilly thing to do.
After all, the oddball Italian with the daft catchphrases and bizarre sense of humour was sacked by Leicester just a few months after winning the Premier League title.
Oafish Ranieri would have been one of the least popular choices with the qualities required to dig a club out of the deep kind of trouble Fulham find themselves in.
But after the sacking of Slavisa Jokanovic, Fulham’s owner Shahid Khan has plumped for the mana who wrote one of the most romantic football fairytales ever told.
Put aside Ranieri’s silly little bell that he rings, his truncated quotes in press conferences and the fact his English is hardly any better than when he first worked in England as Chelsea boss 18 years ago.
Football reacts to the appointment of Claudio Ranieri
Fulham went for Ranieri because he is surprisingly communicative. Khan believes his new appointment is also versatile enough and sufficiently tactically aware to drag his club off the bottom of the table and to safety.
More familiar names on Khan’s wish-list for a manager would have been Sam Allardyce - survival specialist. The man most clubs turn to at times like these and Big Sam is not afraid to advertise himself in that mould.
Yet Fulham have gone for someone they believe is able to work with the players he takes on when he walks through the door of his new club. Whether it be 4-4-2, 3-4-3 or 4-3-3, Ranieri has done it all to relative success.
Fulham believe men like Allardyce play only one way - with a rigid philosophy on how points are ground out when required. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Ranieri is viewed as way more adaptable. He will look at the Fulham players and go with their strengths, not his.
His Italian passport also bought him credibility as the country with strong defensive instincts. For a team with only five points at the bottom of the league that is a vital ingredient.
A big question mark over Ranieri’s suitability to take over Fulham has been the fact he was sacked by Leicester. Just ten months after galvanising a relative rag-tag group of players into the most formidable team of the season in 2016 he was gone - amid whisperings of player unrest.
Fulham’s simple answer to that is that it is nigh on impossible to find a manager with Premier League experience these days that hasn’t been sacked.
Allardyce has been axed or ‘relieved’ of his duties six times compared to Ranieri’s twice in England. Every coach these days is damaged goods it seems.
The other big factor in going for the most bonkers manager in the country is that he doesn’t have to win the league this year.
There are 26 league games left and Fulham are only four points from safety at the moment. His only target is to finish 17th - that is regarded as success for Fulham.
Not so dilly ding dilly dong after all?