By appointing Claudio Ranieri, surely Fulham have not only guaranteed their survival this season but made themselves the smart choice for 2019-20 Premier League winners.
Even the stingiest of bookies would give you 5,000/1 on Fulham to lift the Premier League trophy next season, but history tells us it’s a sure thing.
With the Cottagers rock bottom of the table and even managing to lose to Huddersfield, things looked bleak until they called in their trump card – a certain Claudio Ranieri.
While the self-titled Tinkerman has urged fans not to expect miracles, that’s exactly what he would say if he was about to magic up another Leicester style fairytale.
So before you place the £1 bet that will lead to a five-star holiday in the Maldives in the summer of 2020, we’ll guide you through Ranieri’s master plan.
Ranieri famously coined the phrase ‘Dilly ding, dilly dong’, imitating a bell to remind his players to pay attention to him and to keep their concentration.
Faced with the frequent lapses of concentration in the Fulham back-line, Ranieri will erect a 10-foot bell in the dugout which he will ring whenever it looks like Alfie Mawson is about to give the ball away.
Fear of the bell’s terrifying clang will indeed whip the defence into shape in Pavlov’s dog style and into the bargain will stun and possibly deafen hapless opposition strikers.
Within a matter of weeks the Fulham players will be rendered entirely deaf and so immune to the bell’s chimes and the boos of their supporters, hugely boosting morale.
Pizza the action
Leicester City’s players were offered pizza as an incentive for wins, but Ranieri will take things one step further with Fulham and turn the club into a pizza delivery service.
After some initial headaches, such as Calum Chambers being caught six miles out of position delivering a ham and mushroom pizza to Islington mid-game, the team will eventually benefit from the multi-tasking and start to instinctively juggle marking their men and creating an authentic Calabrian N’duja pizza.
The added revenue will see the club turn an unprecedented profit and towards the end of the season, Ranieri will remove an entire stand at Craven Cottage and turn the space into a giant pizza oven.
The loveable Tinkerman nickname belies a devious side to Ranieri who will begin literally tinkering at Craven Cottage.
Before games, Ranieri will appear on the pitch with a soldering iron and begin to shrink the opposition’s goal by adding pieces of scrap metal which he then disassembles at half-time.
While the other teams may complain, Ranieri will avoid any disciplinary action by shrugging and smiling in an avuncular fashion.
There’s no situation that Ranieri doesn’t have a bizarre Italian idiom for and this can come in handy as the season progresses.
Ahead of key matches, Ranieri will insist that ‘a fox in the woods is only a fox as long as he doesn’t know that he is’, ruining the opposition coach’s preparations as he tries in vain to wrestle with the riddle.
Ranieri’s players will begin to communicate solely in terse Roman dialect and incomprehensible proverbs, allowing them to slip past defenders who are still labouring in Standard Italian.
Mum’s the word
Ranieri has already made clear the influence that his mother has had on his career and he’ll take that to the next stage by appointing 99-year-old Renata Ranieri as his assistant manager.
The presence of a scowling nonagenarian Italian woman on the sideline will dampen opposition attacks as they respectfully try to keep the noise down and give up entirely on trying to reclaim their ball from her clutches when it goes off the field for a throw-in.
Players impudent enough to demand their ball back will receive a justified wrap on the knuckles from a wooden spoon and a phone call to their parents telling them what they’ve done.