Rejoice! Claudio Ranieri is back in the Premier League.
The 67-year-old Italian tactician returns to the English top-flight to take over at basement side Fulham, 21 months after being sacked by Leicester City despite leading them to the Premier League crown in 2016.
Roman by birth, Ranieri’s eccentric methods of motivating his players have been well chronicled, so after Wednesday’s announcement, what can the current players at Craven Cottage expect from their new gaffer as he tries to turn the clubs fortunes around?
A ‘SLICE’ OF GOOD FORTUNE
As Leicester City closed in on the title, Claudio promised his players free pizza for every clean-sheet they kept.
The Cottagers have the worst ‘goals against’ record in the Premier League so far this term, but maybe this is because outgoing boss Slavisa Jokanovic only promised his players an assault on the free salad bar at Pizza Hut if their goal remained intact.
A different approach will be adopted by Ranieri to try to redress the balance, and pizzerias from Fulham Broadway to Putney Bridge are rubbing their hands together in anticipation.
Christian Fuchs enjoys his pizza following another Leicester City clean-sheet. Ranieri has stuck to his word! pic.twitter.com/oXkVJgIF95
— FourFourTweet (@FourFourTweet) December 5, 2015
FOR WHOM THE DILLY DING TOLLS
Training sessions are also set to get a revamp with Claudio likely to introduce his now tried and trusted “Dilly Ding, Dilly Dong” technique, which basically involves the Italian ringing an imaginary bell as he puts the players through their paces.
Most of the faithful who take their seats in the Hammersmith End on a regular basis believe they’ve had an imaginary goalkeeper between the sticks for the first three months of the new campaign.
Ranieri is a big believer in integrating himself into the local community. Whilst at Leicester, he was often spotted in his favourite pub, sipping a pint of best and blowing the locals away at darts, dominoes and bar billiards.
During his time in France with Nantes, he was regularly seen riding his bicycle around the city dressed in a stripy top, beret and with a string of onions around his neck.
When he got the gig as head coach of the Greek national team, Mrs Ranieri decided to serve him his dinner on paper plates (for obvious reasons, so now that he’s a stone’s throw away from the River Thames, expect to see him and the players taking regular trips from Putney Bridge to Mortlake over on the Surrey station.
During his memorable spell at The King Power Stadium, Ranieri insisted that the PA system pumped out tunes by local band Kasabian before kick-off, believing their lyrics could inspire his players.
Obviously having his finger on the pulse of popular culture, it will be interesting to see what the Italian decides his new players should run out to Craven Cottage.
Fulham has been quoted in many famous pop songs, but I’m sure Chairman Sahid Khan doesn’t want to see his players running out on the pitch to the tune of “What a Waste” by Ian Dury.
More importantly for Ranieri, however, is the fact is that he has to bring Fulham’s current matchday announcer, the legendary Disc-Jockey David “Diddy” Hamilton, out of the 1970’s.
Ranieri’s appointment is great news for the players ahead the annual Christmas party. When he was boss at Leicester, Claudio didn’t mind that his champions elect decided to go out on the lash in fancy dress, in fact, he absolutely encouraged it. As stated earlier, we know that the Italian is a bit of a culture vulture and a list of the Who’s Who of Fulham fans reads like BAFTA awards ceremony.
Expect Ranieri then, to once again let his troops off the leash, but rather than the now traditional Super-Hero outfits, expect to see legless footballers staggering around SW6 dressed as; Pussy Galore, Mr MacKay from Porridge, Eminem (I kid you not) Citizen Smith and Hugh Grant (played by himself).