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Ranieri relishes return to England

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Chris Bevan | 09:56 UK time, Friday, 20 April 2012

It is eight years since Claudio Ranieri managed in the Premier League - but he has lost none of the charm that made him English football's favourite uncle during his stint as Chelsea manager.

Win, lose or draw during his time at Stamford Bridge, the Italian would always produce a smile (and often a comedy quote or two) during his post-match interviews.

He never really mastered the English language but that did not stop him giving it a go.
The 60-year-old was just as amiable when I met him in person during a recent flying visit to London to talk about Chelsea's prospects, and his own plans.

"My English is not bad after all this time?" Ranieri asks at one point, with a trademark grin.

He is right and, if he has his way, he could get a lot more practice in over the coming months - because it turns out Ranieri loves English football just as much as English football loved him.

He only left his last job at Inter Milan at the end of March but the Italian does not want to be out of the game for long, and a return to these shores is his preferred destination.

Why England? "I had a great relationship with the fans here," Ranieri said. "Not only the Chelsea fans - when I go around Europe and meet English fans they are always pleased to see me. A lot of people remember me.

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"Another reason I would like to continue my career in England is because all the best players are playing here now. I have managed in Italy, Spain and this country, and I think the Premier League is the strongest."

He has had stints at Valencia, Parma, Juventus, Roma and Inter since leaving Chelsea but, in truth, Ranieri never really went away. When his four-year spell with the Blues ended in 2004 Ranieri kept his house in west London. He loves the capital and has come back as often as possible in the last few years.

Where will he go next? Ranieri almost took over at Manchester City in 2007 and was linked with QPR a few months ago but there are no current Premier League vacancies and he will not be drawn on whether he has any suitors, or indeed a specific club in mind himself.

"It is my life to be a coach," he explained. "And of course I would like to come back as soon as possible, but now it is important to take the right job. I would like the right project, a good project."

We can still speculate, though, and the signs are Tottenham may need a new manager soon and there are suggestions that David Moyes might move on from Everton this summer.

Might Ranieri fit the bill as a safe pair of hands to be Harry Redknapp's replacement at White Hart Lane should he take charge of England?

They could certainly do worse. Ranieri was sacked by Inter after a sequence of one win in 10 Serie A games that has left their Champions League qualification in doubt but, before then, they were title contenders thanks to an impressive run which started when he took charge in September.

And, although his reputation in this country is for being the "Tinkerman" because of his willingness to change his tactics and his Chelsea team as often as his socks, he is viewed as a calming influence in Italy after impressive spells at Parma, Juventus and Roma.

Chelsea might also be looking for a new manager in the summer, of course, although Ranieri thinks their interim boss Roberto di Matteo is the right man for that job. In any case, the chances of him returning to Stamford Bridge are a little more far-fetched.

"I don't think about it, but why say no?" he says with another smile when I ask him about whether he fancies renewing his working relationship with Blues owner Roman Abramovich.

Judging from the number of managers the Russian has got through in his nine years in west London (six permanent, two interim and one caretaker), Abramovich's expectations are one of the biggest problems facing any Chelsea manager.

But, as Ranieri knows only too well, there are trigger-happy owners, chairmen and presidents everywhere, and he thinks a patient approach is more likely to pay off.
"In our job, all the managers have to deal with pressure. In England, Italy, Spain, everywhere," he explained. "This job is not an easy job.

"Everybody knows football - when you win you are fantastic. When you lose, you are the worst in the world. But that is our life.

"Look at Manchester City, they are having a good season and Roberto Mancini has done a very good job - but only one team can win the title and, for a lot of their players this is the first time they are fighting for a big title.

"I know this pressure. It is not easy to build. All the people need time, no? Rome wasn't built in a day."


  • Comment number 1.

    Claudio Ranieri is a true gentleman of football, Chelsea treated him very shabbily in 2004 but he left with his dignity and his head held high. I for one would welcome him back in English football.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ranieri seems to have a realistic approach to the job of a high profile football manager.
    Except in exceptional circumstances I think it is a mistake to sack a manager mid season. The owner(s) should reflect on whether the team has underperformed against realistic expectations across at least an entire season before making a change.
    On that basis the only clear candidate for the chop in the Premier League is Alex McLeish. He appears to have failed to learn the lessons from the relegation of Birmingham City, that is even with a well organised defence, if you do not set up your team to score goals you will slide toward the foot of the table.

  • Comment number 3.

    Ranieri was such a likeable guy. Unfortunately I think that is to his detriment as a manager. It would be great to see him back in the Premiership though.

  • Comment number 4.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 5.


    In very few cases is it a mistake to sack the manager mid season. Statistically sacking your manager mid season usually results in an up turn of results, eg Sunderland and Chelsea this season. In fact I'm quite pleased to see Wolves struggling, as it's one of the very few times that the team has done worse for sacking their manager.

    As for Villa, I think its more to do with selling their two most creative players and replacing them with N'Zogbia, which has left them near the bottom of the table. I don't see what more McLeish could do. Villa fans have a high estimation of their team, they are a big club, but they aren't paying the wages of a big club.

    Ranieri is very much a safe pair of hands, he has never proved to be a great deal more. Don't think he was the right man to take Chelsea forward in 2004.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a Chelsea fan that saw most of the games when Ranieri was in charge, I have nothing but respect and admiration for him.
    He was responsible for a lot of the signings that featured in the success we had under Jose e.g Frank Lampard.
    I think his downfall was his constant desire to tinker with the team even when things were going well.
    After we beat the invincible Arsenal team in the Champions League quarter finals, we should have won the competition. Claudio's bizarre substitutions in the away semi-final in Monaco when we were ahead and playing against 10 men did cost us the match and I think ultimately his job.
    I wish him well though if he returns to the Premier League.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'd be happy to see him back at Chelsea as Director of Football. He (and his scouts) had an eye for good talent coming through. If you think back to when he left the club, but the players he had, and was bringing in place for the 2005 season, I think Jose has a lot to thank him for.
    The only down side to his game was as BellasRevenge mentions above "Claudio's bizarre substitutions in the away semi-final in Monaco when we were ahead and playing against 10 men did cost us the match and I think ultimately his job"

    However if you think about the signings he made :- Damien Duff, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, John Terry(Came through under Ranieri), Petr Čech, Arjen Robben, William Gallas, Frank Lampard and Claude Makélélé who I consider still to be the missing link.. If we had not signed Claude, maybe we would not have won the titles.. Great player, keep it simple.. Then you can see Jose had good foundation, but it was the Tinkerman that put the team together. Jose was better at man management and deflecting media from the team to himself.

  • Comment number 8.

    7 -

    I think you would have still won titles without Claude, giving him that much credit is a bit extreme, although yes he was a good player.

  • Comment number 9.

    @8 Why are DM's so underated ? I'd swap Maka for Mikel any day of the week

  • Comment number 10.

    I really like Claude Ranieri I hope he be back in primier leauge

  • Comment number 11.

    Ranieri's spell at Juventus was not "impressive". Not bad, but not impressive. He did alright for a while, but he lost the plot in his 2nd year and had to be sacked as the team was slipping out of the Champions League spots they'd previously been comfortable in.

    He tends to do well for a short while, but then loses the dressing room as they get sick of his lack of tactical nous. That happened at Juventus and Roma. I wouldn't blame him for anything that happened at Inter though, as they're very badly run, so it's very difficult for any coach to do well.

    He should become England manager this summer, as his short term abilities should work well.

  • Comment number 12.

    After we beat the invincible Arsenal team in the Champions League quarter finals, we should have won the competition. Claudio's bizarre substitutions in the away semi-final in Monaco when we were ahead and playing against 10 men did cost us the match and I think ultimately his job.
    I wish him well though if he returns to the Premier League.

    I disagree. Not regarding how nice Ranieri is, and what a true gentleman of football he is, one of a kind. But I do disagree that it was his tinkering that cost Chelsea the tie against Monaco. Monaco had already -convincingly- overturned a 4-2 deficit against Real in previous round and were playing unbelievable football and on a high. Monaco would have won that game at Stade Louis II regardless of the players, they were simply the better team.

  • Comment number 13.

    @8 Why are DM's so underated ? I'd swap Maka for Mikel any day of the week

    Mikel is a DM. They are only underrated in certain countries. In France the number 6 position is one the most important, and we have known the importance of this role. But a good DM doesnt have to be a big powerful player. He has to be clever, and an instinct for reading the game. We have had a few great number 6s. But we are not alone, Italy and Holland as well as germany usually have always that number 6 position in their team. In Anglo saxon countries up to very rceently a good DM was someone whose footballing skills is close to zero but can probably overpower any oppositon player. The diffenrce is whether you're after a deep playmaker - pirlo, a true tactician - deschamps, makelele - or a bully - parker. There is a merit for all those skills, but I prefer the creator of play than the destroyer of play.

  • Comment number 14.


    Even Spain to a certain extent with Alonso and Senna before him.

  • Comment number 15.


    We've been lucky to have both Deschamp and Makelele at Chelsea, their tactical ability was exellent, but they also both very good "destroyer's of play", like Dunga for Brazil. I sort of agree about Parker, his short pass distribution has got a lot better though, he can now keep a game moving like the other player's I've mentioned.
    Mikel is surprisingly unphysical for his size, (except when he's fouling unneccesarily), but he can be great, his recent performances against Napoli and Benfica for example.
    As a Chelsea fan I do like Ranieri a lot, but I disagree about the Monaco game, they were down to 10 men and we were in total control until the strange subs and tactics changes. He also had a terrible record in the UEFA cup, we went out in the early stages 3 times against opposition we should have beaten. He has a great eye for players though.

  • Comment number 16.

    Arggh, why can't we edit posts for spelling errors, WHY?

  • Comment number 17.

    @ cashforhonours

    hello cash, Senna was a great player and he did that role perfectly.

    @ Clarkiechelsea

    I dont mean destroyer in how they get the ball back, they all have to do it, I mean what they do with it afterwards. Its a bit like the number in rugby, they have to relase the ball quickly and be able to read movement. Parker is a decent player, but this is as good a club as he'll play for. He is a bit limited, and he breaks his own team play, plus he gives many fouls away when its too late and so concedes dangerous free kicks.

    I wasnt aware of your UEFA record under him, but as a Monaco fan let me tell you we would have won that game regardless, but I do remember sitting in my uni room on campus in london thinking wow, this has just got a bit easier for us. Though why I say we would win is that even at ten men, Deschamps brought on Nonda, a striker, on to win the game anyway. Morientes was already on the pitch.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think Mikel may be a player who will be better suited to a less physical league. But he needs a manager that trusts him as he has never been a regular, under how many managers now?

  • Comment number 19.

    I always find it amusing that Ranieri still has this "tinkerman" nickname when Mourhino, Benitez and others who came afterwards used the rotation system to equal or greater effect. Indeed nowadays a top club uses squad rotation as a matter of course.

    I'd also like to see Ranieri back, its always good to see nice guys getting work, but I'm not sure I'd necessarily want him at my club. When Harry leaves, given a choice between Ranieri and Moyes its not even a contest.

  • Comment number 20.

    He doesn't have a place in the EPL.

  • Comment number 21.

    Awful manager. Been sacked from nearly every club he's been at and the jobs where he resigned he jumped before he was pushed. Just look at the mess he made of Inter, European champions only 2 years ago.
    Why in this country do the media hold serial losers such as Ranieri, Hodgson, Redknapp, Keegan etc in a higher regard than serial winners such as Mourinho and Ferguson? A very British mentality.

  • Comment number 22.

    How can you blame him for Inter ?

  • Comment number 23.

    Ranieri may have been a nice guy. But his record has been poor since Chelsea. Even then he won nothing. He has managed numerous clubs in his home land and he some how got to manage some of Italys big boys which all ended in failure. Very much overrated. I couldn't understand why 2010 CL winners Inter had decided to appoint him after sacking the previous managers before. What was the result? Rainieri getting sacked again!!

    Who would appoint him over here? Why do clubs appoint managers who have a track record of getting the sack due to failure at nearly every club they have managed?

  • Comment number 24.

    @#23: It's the old boys network. There seems to be an assumption in football that experience = quality. Take Gordon Strachan as another example. Got Coventry relegated, did nothing special at Celtic where there is more or less a 50/50 chance of winning everything, and destroyed everything good about Middlesbrough by ignoring the youth academy and bringing in a team of SPL failures, taking Boro from 2nd in the Championship and a certainty to get promoted all the way down into the relegation zone. And yet I guarantee he'll get another job sooner or later.

    I agree, I never really rated Ranieri. He seemed like a decent, intelligent chap, but so did Benitez and his only major success with Liverpool was with Houllier's team in his first year. I wouldn't want either in charge of Spurs now. Go for a young up-and-comer. I'd actually be pretty happy to see Villas-Boas come in. Daniel Levy would likely be a little more patient than Abramovich.

  • Comment number 25.

    @24 AVB was a shocking man manager, You'd like to go from "Ol Arry Boy" to AVB ? one who knows how to get the best out of his players, to one that dumps 1st team regulars Anelka & Alex with the reserves and banned any contact with the 1st team. The shocking way he treated Lampard etc.. I was glad he went.

    And just out of interest, of all the players at Porto that won everything that season, how many of the players did AVB actually sign.. Bearing in mind he was only there for just over 1 season.

  • Comment number 26.

    A little bit harsh on Strachan's time at Celtic. Fair enough the Scottish league is uncompetitive but he did take Celtic to the last 16 of the Champions League twice. In 2005, they beat Man Utd, Benfica & Copenhagen in the qualifying rounds but lost to Milan who eventually won it only after extra time. The following year, they beat Milan, Benfica & Shaktar in the first round, so not a bad record.

  • Comment number 27.

    @24. I would agree with you with AVB being a possible Spurs appointment. The way he was treated at the Chelsea "boys brigade" was shocking. Player power was to blame for his sacking. The likes of Lampard,Drogba etc.. disliked his methods and just didn't perform for him. Suddenly the "pampered prats" are now back on form and all praising Di Matteo who was part of AVB's management team. I hope Chelsea who i awfully loathe fail the top 4 this season and we'll see if Abromavich decides to close his cheque book and pack his bags. We'll then see were Chelsea ends up then. The next club AVB manages i hope success for him and not end up a journey man like Ranieri.

  • Comment number 28.

    maybe but only maybe milan manderic is interested in his services dependent on what happens at swfc at the seasons end playoffs or automatic promotion just a question of cash if its right he will manage swfc next season saying of course d jones does not achieve promotion for swfc watch this space

  • Comment number 29.

    1 win in 10... can't decide if Tinkerman who fit Spurs better than Brendan Rogers' recent record of 1 goal in 4 defeats. No one mentioning Rafa Benitez for Spurs? Then again, another who didn't make Inter tick! I know a man who did, now that would be the 'real' deal. No way Jose!

  • Comment number 30.

    iPad error... 'who' should read 'would'!
    Mea culpa

  • Comment number 31.

    Next Liverpool manager ?

  • Comment number 32.

    Kenny Spackleish has to go.....

  • Comment number 33.

    " I couldn't understand why 2010 CL winners Inter had decided to appoint him after sacking the previous managers before."
    Benitez, Leonardo and Gasperini came after Mourinho. Ranieri took over a failing team from Gasperini with players over the hill and Etoo gone.


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