The appointment of Claudio Ranieri as Nigel Pearson’s successor at Leicester hasn’t been greeted too enthusiastically.
Such indifference is understandable given that in his previous role he oversaw Greece’s collapse from tournament regulars and World Cup 2014 round-of-16 participants to the team rock bottom of a straightforward Euro 2016 qualifying group.
He collected just one point from four fixtures, courtesy of a draw in Finland, losing at home to Romania, Northern Ireland and Faroe Islands, and was axed shortly after the latter indignity.
However, two factors favour the 63-year-old. Firstly, the slump has continued since he was swapped out for Sergio Markarian, with Greece being held by Hungary and beaten once again by Faroe Islands, hinting that decline was inevitable under whoever followed Fernando Santos.
Secondly, there is a vast difference between club and international management and Ranieri has never flopped in the first field in the manner that he did in the second last term.
Indeed, his performances as a club boss have been sufficiently impressive to earn him opportunities in charge of massive sides like Juventus, Inter, Roma, Fiorentina, Napoli, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Monaco.
The usual criticism of his work is that he doesn’t have enough silverware to show for nearly 30 years in the dugout, especially given the calibre of his employers. The Italian has won the Coppa Italia, Copa del Rey, Serie B and Ligue 2, but no top-flight titles or major European honours.
This shouldn’t be an immediate concern to Leicester though, whose priority is surviving their second season back in the Premier League, a task that their [4.6] relegation odds indicate is very achievable.
What Ranieri lacks in no trophy-winning pedigree he compensates for with an established record of initially improving practically every squad that he has ever coached.
If you focus on this century alone, he inherited Chelsea in 17th place in September 2000 and left them in second in May 2004, guiding them to their first of many Champions League semi-finals in the process. A brief return to Valencia wasn’t too glorious but at least delivered a UEFA Super Cup.
After a bit of time out, he was back to his best at Parma in 2007, taking over in February when they were 19th with 15 points from 22 games. A spectacular run-in of two defeats in 15 lifted them to 12th and saw him granted the chance to lead Juventus in their first post-Calciopoli Serie A campaign.
Parma were relegated as he led the Old Lady to successive top-three finishes. That restored them to the Champions League, where he reached the last 16, before being ungratefully sacked towards the end of the second season. They slumped to seventh two years in a row without him.
Then came one of the greatest almost-triumphs of his career as he took over his hometown team Roma, who had lost their opening two matches, and came within two points of denying Inter and then-nemesis Jose Mourinho the scudetto. The Giallorossi gained 51 points from their final 20 encounters and won nine of their closing ten, yet were edged out by the treble winners.
A lukewarm six-month stay at Inter came next which, though not critically acclaimed, can now be looked back on as one of their brighter spells of an appalling last four years.
His last job in club management before this move to Leicester was another positive experience as he lifted Monaco out of Ligue 2 and then to second in their first season back in Ligue 1, with the highest point total of their entire existence.
So yes, Ranieri failed miserably at Greece, but that shouldn’t override over a decade of accomplished performances prior to that in assessing his quality.