Leicester Metropolis 4-2 Watford: Claudio Ranieri receives hero’s welcome on return to the King Energy Stadium

Watford boss Claudio Ranieri returned to Leicester for the primary time since guiding them to the Premier League title

Leicester Metropolis followers have been in nostalgic temper on Sunday – and you might perceive why.

Claudio Ranieri, who guided the Foxes to essentially the most surprising, feel-good success in English soccer by successful the 2015-16 Premier League, was again on the King Energy Stadium.

And the present Watford supervisor received the hero’s reception he deserved as supporters remembered a marketing campaign once they have been written off as 5,000-1 no hopers – and ended up champions.

All sides of the stadium have been on their toes applauding, with the 70-year-old Italian waving to all corners and pointing to his coronary heart, whereas attempting to carry again tears.

“This Premier League Leicester Metropolis 4-2 Watford: Claudio Ranieri receives hero’s welcome on return to the King Energy Stadium might be in my coronary heart all my life. I am very proud to be a part of Leicester’s fairytale and historical past,” mentioned Ranieri. “I am a really shy man, I do not wish to present my feelings. If I am prepared I might be calm. If I am shocked typically little tears occur.”

However the love from the Leicester followers was relentless.

In a chaotic and thrilling match performed in blizzard circumstances, Leicester received 4-2 with the house crowd going by means of their full vary of Ranieri chants at common intervals.

Present Leicester supervisor Brendan Rodgers mentioned the response “warmed the center”, whereas Ranieri known as it “implausible”.

Ranieri has been serenaded on the King Energy Stadium earlier than, however this time there was no Andrea Bocelli in a Foxes shirt and no renditions of Nessun Dorma – as when Leicester collected the trophy in Might 2016. Simply reward and gratitude flowed from followers who might be retelling that unforgettable marketing campaign to future generations.

There was to be no repeat for Leicester after that.

They reached the Champions League quarter-finals the following season, however solely completed twelfth within the Premier League and Ranieri was lengthy gone, brutally dismissed 9 months after the membership’s best second.

However Leicester have been punching above their weight – and proceed to take action, with Rodgers securing successive fifth-placed finishes and successful the FA Cup in Might.

The Foxes have since struggled to seek out their finest kind, though there was lots to be optimistic about on Sunday.

The win over Watford, wherein Jamie Vardy scored twice, takes them again into the highest half, solely 5 factors off the Champions League spots, though questions stay over how far Rodgers, repeatedly linked with the Manchester United job, can take them.

“Brendan has publicly distanced himself from most jobs he is been linked with, however paper discuss will proceed so long as he is profitable,” mentioned Chris Forryan, from followers’ web site Leicester Until I Die.external-link

“With two top-five finishes, two consecutive European campaigns and FA Cup and Group Defend wins – he is not doing that unhealthy, is he?

“It is going to be right down to Brendan how lengthy he stays, however he is constructing one thing at Leicester, a long-term venture. If anybody can get Leicester again within the Champions League, it is going to be Brendan.”

A large enhance for Rodgers may very well be a return to kind for England midfielder James Maddison, who was wonderful and obtained a standing ovation when substituted after a aim and two assists.

Nonetheless, the defence might be a priority they usually have solely stored one clear sheet within the league, regardless of having among the best goalkeepers in Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester fixtures
Leicester’s recreation at Napoli on 9 December is within the Europa League and the match at Liverpool on 22 December is within the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup

So the place do Leicester go from right here? Their finest possibilities of success may properly be cup competitions. They’re within the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, though a visit to Liverpool awaits, and high of their Europa League group however may very well be eradicated in the event that they lose away at Serie A leaders Napoli.

Certainly, December may very well be a season-defining month for the Foxes with an energy-draining run that sees them play 9 video games, together with league matches towards Tottenham, Manchester Metropolis and Liverpool in addition to their Carabao Cup and Europa League ties.

And what of Ranieri? Regardless of being a Premier League winner, he finds himself in a wierd place of attempting to rebuild his status in English soccer after a failed three-and-a-half month spell at Fulham in 2018-19, which resulted in solely three wins from 17 video games.

He is picked up six factors from a difficult first six video games accountable for Watford – spectacular 5-2 and 4-1 wins over Everton and Manchester United respectively, however defeats towards Liverpool, Southampton, Arsenal and now his former employers.

It would not get any simpler with the defensively-poor Hornets entertaining European champions Chelsea on Wednesday and reigning Premier League holders Manchester Metropolis on Saturday.

Whether or not Ranieri generally is a long-term success at Watford stays to be seen however, at Leicester, he’ll all the time stay part of historical past and a Foxes legend.

Claudio Ranieri
Claudio Ranieri has managed 4 English groups – Chelsea, Leicester Metropolis, Fulham and now Watford

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