Leicester legend Gary Lineker tweeted simply: “Claudio Ranieri? Really?” and pundits pointed to his disastrous spell as manager of Greece in his previous job, where he was sacked after losing to the Faroe Islands.
And from fans to ex-players and football writers, the general consensus was that Ranieri was the wrong choice to replace Nigel Pearson, who had guided the Foxes into the Premier League and kept them there with seven wins from the last nine games of the season.
What followed was one of the unlikeliest feats ever in football management, as the genial Italian led his 5,000-1 shots to the Premier League title.
His tactical expertise saw him discover a formula for beating the best teams in the division with pacy, direct attacking play and a rock-solid defence, and he forged an unbreakable team spirit, bringing the best out of a squad of players including many who had been rejected by so-called bigger clubs.
His positive outlook and cheery demeanour in post-match interviews also provided welcome relief from the intensity of some of his managerial rivals, and helped win over millions of neutral fans.