I think I’m a little bit in love with Claudio Ranieri. Eighteen months after being unceremoniously dumped by the Greek national side, he’s taken Leicester City Football Club from Zero to Hero in one short season.
While the President of Greece’s national football federation was apologising to the Greek nation for his ‘unfortunate choice of coach’, Ranieri was unrepentant. He knew that the task he’d been given was not going to be achieved in a matter of months. He knew he was a talented coach, but that the team needed rebuilding after three players had retired; and with only a day or so to train with the team before each match, it was going to take time. As far as he was concerned, ‘Claudio was not the problem’.
When he joined Leicester City Football Club as manager in July 2015, Ranieri noted that during the first part of the last season his new team couldn’t seem to win, while in the last part they couldn’t seem to lose. He wondered which was the real Leicester, and stated for the record that he thought it was the latter.
He may have thought that, but he was almost a lone voice in a sea of doubters and dissenters. The stories told about Leicester City were that they had the wrong manager, he was uninspired, he’d bombed in Greece, his style was all wrong. The team were favourites for relegation, and the pundits told them that their time was up and they’d be scrabbling around for points all season. After all, look at their team! It cost a fraction of the top flight teams.
So it’s just as well that Claudio Ranieri doesn’t tell himself the same stories that other people tell about him. And it’s just as well that he showed his team how to do the same, and zone out everyone else’s stories. Ranieri says that he’s always been positive, and always believed that he will take a team to a premier league title, but he didn’t set himself the expectation to win the Premier League in his first season with Leicester. He had a plan for the longer term, and the goal for this season was to win matches and to improve. And by telling themselves the story that they were that kind of team, they did. And lost only three league matches all season. Of course they had to work at being a team, and train hard: they didn’t just win matches because they thought they would. But by believing in themselves, and telling themselves the best story, they gave that hard work and training a focus and a purpose. When asked what the secret is to his team’s success, Ranieri answered that it’s all down to the players’ focus and determination, their heart and their soul.
The Leicester team and their miracle manager defied the odds. In a truly fantasy football finish, worthy of a Hollywood storyline, they are Premier League Champions, and they truly deserve it. They’ve captivated the nation, and their win dominates headlines and front pages throughout the world today. They’re an inspiration, and proof that life doesn’t have to follow well-worn paths and conventions. They’re proof that it’s the story you tell yourself that counts.
So what’s the story you’re telling yourself. What is it you believe about yourself? It can take some effort, but you can change your story to whatever you want it to be. You can rewrite it, because it’s yours. The story you tell yourself counts. It’s the most important story of all.