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It came as a huge shock to everyone connected to Leeds United when it was announced that Garry Monk had decided to leave the club following talks with new owner Andrea Radrizzani. Revealing that he felt unable to “move forward” at Elland Road following the takeover is a hard pill to swallow for fans who had taken to Monk’s honest approach and ability to get the very best from a team that clearly bought into his philosophies. Radrizzani was more than happy to offer Monk a new three-year contract as a reward for the excellent progress made, despite agonisingly missing out on the play-offs following a late slump in form, but his plans have suffered a major setback as Leeds have been left to look for their seventh manager in the last three years.
Just when things were starting to look promising at Elland Road under a manager that brought stability and hope of leading the club back into the Premier League for the first time since 2004, Leeds hit another hurdle. Radrizzani’s 100 percent takeover may signal a brighter future after three years of turbulence under Massimo Cellino, but his first objective will be to find a new manager who is able to continue the strong progress made under Monk and implement their own ideas on a team that have enough quality to mount another push for a top six finish next season. He may be tempted to roll the dice and gamble on a young or inexperienced manager, but while it would be as bold a move as placing everything on red at the roulette table on LadyLucks, Leeds may benefit from having an experienced man at the helm who knows what it takes to lead a team to success. It would make Claudio Ranieri the lead candidate to walk through the doors at Elland Road this summer, with the 65-year-old looking to get back into football management with a club that shares his passion and enthusiasm to succeed.
There can be no question that Ranieri’s profile stands out from the list of potential candidates for the job, with the charismatic Italian leading Leicester to a memorable Premier League title in 2015/2016. His appointment may have been questioned by many after Ranieri endured a nightmare four-month period in charge of the Greece national team, with a shock 1-0 home defeat against the Faroe Islands ultimately led to his departure. However, he revitalised a club that had miraculously avoided relegation and made them believe in their own ability, with the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy excelling as Leicester never looked back after building up a head of steam. Ranieri and his players proved everyone wrong by completing the unthinkable and becoming Premier League champions, but while their league form dipped this season as expectation levels went through the roof, Ranieri guided his team to the top of Group G in their first ever Champions League adventure.
If Monk’s departure took everyone by surprise, the same could be said for Ranieri who was dismissed by Leicester in somewhat acrimonious and controversial circumstances. Rumours that certain players stabbed him in the back by going to the chairman and asking for their manager to be sacked continues to leave a bitter taste in the mouth for those who truly appreciate everything he managed to achieve at the King Power Stadium; his dismissal could prove to have a silver lining for Leeds if they appoint a man who will unquestionably be on a mission to prove his doubters wrong and lead the club back into the Premier League.
Ranieri’s colourful and humerous press interviews would certainly make him a fans’ favourite if it was matched by performances on the pitch and points on the board, but the standout part of his resume that may pique Radrizzani’s interest is that he has experience of leading teams to promotion. He has guided Cagliari, Fiorentina and Monaco to the top tier of their respective divisions during his managerial career, with the latter of the three arguably paving the way for their gradual rise to prominence that saw them win the Ligue 1 title and reach the Champions League Semi-Finals this season. While he has no experience of managing in the Championship, his presence in the dugout would certainly give Leeds a greater chance of challenging for the play-offs, if not automatic promotion than winning big on LadyLucks’ mobile casino games.
It is hard to imagine that Radrizzani envisaged losing Monk after completing his takeover, but he faces a big decision this summer. It is more than possible that Leeds’ new owner will opt for fellow countryman Ranieri, and while that may appear to be the safe and sensible option, considering his options and making the right appointment could be the difference between Leeds using their seventh-placed finish as a springboard towards finishing higher next season and falling back into their own habits as all of the hard work under Monk goes out the window.
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