The Italian returns to King Power Stadium on Sunday for the first time since guiding Leicester to the title in 2016 and he will no doubt receive a warm welcome from supporters.
When Ranieri was named by Watford there was a feeling of excitement among the team. Moussa Sissoko has contacted his France teammate and Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante for information on his new manager.
Sounds were positive and Ranieri fell in love with the Watford squad from the start when, in one of his first meetings, he expressed his sadness to be there at the expense of his sacked predecessor Xisco Munoz.
Xisco was very popular with the team, and Ranieri’s nod to him was well received. Just like his decision to blackmail “Bella Ciao” to his team as part of their welcome to the club.
Players were also taken aback by how the 70-year-old is in training. Ranieri is more than happy to stop a session to physically train someone in the right position.
His honesty with the players has deteriorated as well, and many have discovered, although he enjoys jokes, that he speaks candidly.
Naturally, like when any new manager takes over, things have changed at Watford but some elements remain the same.
Small things like this can easily appeal to players, but above all the team were impressed with Ranieri’s tactical details – an area that is sometimes lacking in Xisco.
The analysis sessions in the Manchester United preparation focused on presenting the team’s excerpts from Liverpool’s 5-0 win at Old Trafford, and in particular how Klopp’s side pushed the United defense up the field.
This was the plan Watford used against United and, tellingly, they’ve won the ball in half the times as many times as in any of their Premier League games this season.
The win over United put Watford four points ahead of the last three and showed just how dangerous they can be under Ranieri, with their first three pacts supported by a hard-working midfielder.
Sissoko, signed from Tottenham this summer, became its beating heart and he became captain under Ranieri.
The Frenchman, who considers France and Tottenham skipper Hugo Lloris to be the best captain he has played under, is very different from Troy Deeney. He’s not as vocal as his predecessor, but he aims to lead by example.
So far, Sissoko has done it and he, like many others, is starting to believe in Ranieri.
It’s still early days, and he’d be the first to admit it, but Ranieri can at least walk towards Leicester with a spring in his step.