Claudio Ranieri is an Italian football manager who will never, ever be forgotten. For anyone who has no idea who he is, I am sure you will have heard about Leicester City winning the football Premier League at the end of the 2015/16 season.
It is widely acknowledged as the most shocking sporting team result in the history of sport. At the start of the season, they were 5000-1 rank outsiders to win the league but by the end of it, most people like me who had been following them with increasing amazement as the season progressed, as well as those who have been supporting them their entire lives were awestruck by what they had achieved.
All that to say, Claudio Ranieri is starting low all over again – this time with south-west London club Fulham. Now I’m not saying they will win the league this season or even next season but my attention was captured by a simple story about the wise Italian’s instant impact at the club who currently sit at the bottom of the Premier League.
With their previous manager in control (or not as the case may be) the Fulham players would eat their lunch in the club canteen and then get up and leave.
Not with Ranieri around they don’t. He has insisted that no one leaves until the last person has finished their lunch.
It may sound simplistic. It may even sound legalistic.
It is neither of these.
Even their warm up routines have been subtly but dramatically changed to increase the cohesion and harmony in the team. If the player leading their warm-ups leads with his right leg for the first move, everyone has to move with their right leg.
This is what is known as ‘cognitive cohesion’. (Actually I just made that up but it sounds quite good I think!)
Whatever you may want to call it, whenever and wherever you encourage, or even dare I say it, force people in a team to come together to build a greater sense of unity and togetherness, great things can potentially happen.
In Fulham’s case, that will mean simply staying in the Premier League for next season, Beyond that, who knows but I’m not sure I would bet against Claudio Ranieri doing something extraordinary again.
And while the headlines are what we tend to remember, for the players and those closest to the real work behind the scenes, the blessing is in the detail.