Richard III v Claudio Ranieri: How do Leicester's titans compare?

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Media captionThe two figures are compared on aspects of their leadership

On the face of it, they have little in common. And yet - has anyone had more impact on Leicester than King Richard III and Claudio Ranieri? BBC News compares the qualities of two men who have, in different ways, boosted the city over the past 12 months.

The discovery of Richard III's remains and his later reburial has been a boon to Leicester's tourism industry and captured the imagination of the city.

Thousands lined the cortege route as the remains of the king, found beneath a city centre car park after more than 500 years, were escorted to the cathedral.

Scenes like this could easily be replicated should Leicester be crowned Premier League champions in the coming weeks.

"Leicester is witnessing a different sort of history being made," said Ian Stringer, football correspondent for BBC Radio Leicester.

"The greatest team sport story ever."

So how do the men's leadership styles compare?


The question of what makes a great leader has been pondered for centuries. If Richard III had been a better chief would he have won the Battle of Bosworth? Are Leicester City top of the Premier League simply due to Claudio Ranieri's command?

While "King Claudio" has skilfully guided the 5,000-1 long shots, it is perhaps more of a team effort - players, coaches and thousands of fans making waves from the stands.

Richard III, in contrast, was a medieval monarch - a dictator whose word was law.

Depicted as evil and brutish by Shakespeare, his alleged role in the disappearance of his young nephews certainly made him infamous.

However, The Richard III Society dispute the negative image and believe Tudor propaganda was to blame for this portrayal. Despite this, his reputation has stuck.

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Image caption Claudio Ranieri had a point to prove after his fraught time at Chelsea

Ranieri, on the other hand, has been doing very well in challenging the public's perception of himself.

It was at Chelsea he picked up the moniker "The Tinkerman" due to the way he frequently changed his team selection.

He was also considered a figure of fun because of his quirkiness - some journalists even labelled him "Clownio".

That has all changed, according to Mr Stringer.

"Claudio is fun and certainly turns on the laughs when he wants to but don't be fooled into thinking he's a jester because he isn't," he says.

The Italian has let the football do the talking and silenced his critics - Leicester are top and Chelsea, mid-table.

Inspirational qualities

"Great leaders know how to communicate in many ways," says Andrew Wilson, a leadership expert at the BBC's College of Journalism.

"They have a different style [of communicating] to different people, there's also the skill to know when you don't need to say very little or anything at all."

Richard III was an "inspiring leader in the battle" according to the Richard III Society chairman, Dr Phil Stone.

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Image caption Richard's reputation was all down to propaganda say the Richard III Society

"He was clearly popular with his men as he cared for them and looked after them, even providing them with medics and spiritual care."

However, by the time of Bosworth, his popularity was waning. The disappearance of his nephews turned many against him and he faced a struggle to persuade some nobles to join his army.

One of the major aristocrats, William Stanley, joined forces with Richard's challenger, Henry Tudor - a factor which played a large role in deciding the battle's outcome.

In contrast, Ranieri has inspired a group of largely unheralded players to the brink of the Premier League title, with his team displaying a togetherness and self-belief that puts some of the larger clubs to shame.

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Image caption Could Richard III have done with a groundsman to avoid boggy conditions at Bosworth?

He has never been one to give "Churchillian" speeches at half-time, says Mark Bosnich, one of his former players at Chelsea.

The goalkeeper says his former boss wore "his heart on his sleeve" but knows "which switches to flick and when".

An example of this was in September when he told his players he would buy them all pizza if they kept a clean sheet against Stoke City.

He has also frequently plays down his team's chances, taking the pressure off the players and giving them the freedom to play.

Strategic awareness

Richard III had a bigger army at Bosworth, he also had the higher ground and he had never lost a battle - so what went wrong?

"He was a notable tactician but he lost due to treachery not because of his own cock-up," says Dr Stone.

"[During the battle] he saw Henry [Tudor] was exposed, organises a charge but hit the marsh and his horse got stuck. He was just yards from Henry but was slain."

Football managers have been known to blame the conditions - maybe Richard should have had a pitch inspection?

"Possibly... but I think it was just bad luck," says Dr Stone.

Image copyright Getty images
Image caption King Richard III's horse got stuck in mud during the fight with Henry Tudor

Ranieri, meanwhile, has not had a problem with his pitch. In fact, the King Power stadium has been a fortress - the fans even make earthquakes.

Tactics wise, the Italian may have been blasted in the past for "tinkering" too much but squad rotation is now commonplace in football.

Mr Stringer says Ranieri is an "expert" when it comes to tactical substitutions.

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Image caption Leonardo Ulloa scored a dramatic last minute winner against Norwich City on 27 February

In February, during a match with Norwich City, with the score at 0-0, Ranieri threw on Leo Ulloa who poached a late goal, sending fans into meltdown.

"He's smart is our Claudio," says the reporter. "And ahead of the chasing pack when it comes to tactical awareness."

Backroom staff

Every general relies on strong lieutenants and Richard III and Ranieri are no different. According to Mr Wilson, recognising the whole team has a right to be heard is key to leadership.

"The very best leaders realise they don't have to be the best in the room."

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Image caption Trusted Leicester lieutenants - Steve Walsh (left) and Craig Shakespeare (right)

Many historians would agree the Duke of Norfolk, John Howard, was Richard's biggest ally - his friend, his star man - at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

But the duke was slain early on and some say this had a demoralising effect on the king.

Ranieri has also relied on his support staff. Everyone knows about the Foxes' headline makers - striker Jamie Vardy and Algerian playmaker Riyad Mahrez, to name but two.

However, it's the backroom where Ranieri has perhaps been at his shrewdest.

The Italian's "lieutenants" - Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh - were part of the previous reign under Nigel Pearson, but Ranieri kept the pair on.

Walsh and his team were responsible for bringing Mahrez and Vardy to the club while Shakespeare works with the players on the training pitch.

"These two are worth their weight in gold," says Mr Stringer.

Image copyright PA/getty images
Image caption The people of Leicester have taken both Claudio Ranieri and Richard III to their hearts

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