Can Claudio Ranieri defy the odds again and rescue Fulham?


Ranieri’s playing career never amounted to much. He failed to make the grade as a defender at hometown club Roma before spending six years at Catanzaro and a couple of seasons with Sicilian clubs Catania and Palermo.

As a manager Ranieri made his name with Cagliari, taking over in 1988 and winning back-to-back promotions to reach Serie A, with that achievement seeing him named Napoli boss in 1991.

Although he was without Diego Maradona – serving a drugs ban – he introduced Gianfranco Zola, who he later managed at Chelsea.

Can Claudio Ranieri defy the odds again and rescue Fulham?

There were no trophies at the Stadio San Paolo, but he headed to Fiorentina and, powered by the goals of Gabriel Batistuta, won promotion back to the Italian top flight at the first attempt.

His first two major trophies arrived in Florence, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italia in 1996, and a year later, he moved to Spain with Valencia.

Ranieri won the Copa del Rey in 1999, and then got the Atletico Madrid job soon after.

The Italian resigned in 2000 before Atletico were relegated having gone into administration, but Chelsea still appointed him in September of that year.

He spoke little English and earned his ‘Tinkerman’ nickname given his rotation policy – something he has rightly pointed out since is now the norm in English football. It was not until his third season that the Blues qualified for the Champions League.

Ranieri had already signed Frank Lampard in 2001 and lost the 2002 FA Cup final to Arsenal, but laid the foundations for the Blues’ title-winning success under Jose Mourinho when Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

READ MORE: The most memorable quotes from new Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri

Arsenal’s Invincibles beat them to the 2004 Premier League title as Chelsea finished second with Ranieri’s future an open secret – he was going to be replaced by Mourinho. But he earned praise for his grace and poise prior to the confirmation of the Portuguese in the dugout.

Ranieri then returned to Valencia where he won the Super Cup, but he lasted less than a year at the Mestalla before moving to Parma in 2007, saving them from relegation.

That convinced Juventus to move for him after they had returned to Serie A, but he still failed to win a top-flight title as Mourinho’s Inter Milan dominated.

Roma and Inter were next on the list, but there was no silverware until he clinched a Ligue 2 title with Monaco in 2013 – they then finished as runners-up to Paris St Germain in the top flight.

An ill-fated four months with Greece followed when Monaco opted not to renew his contract, before he was Nigel Pearson’s shock replacement at Leicester in 2015.

Favourite to be sacked with one of the favourites to be relegated, he won a stunning title by 10 points. The Foxes lost just three league games all season.

Ever-quotable, he cried after April’s win at Sunderland put them on the brink of the impossible, a sausage was named after him by a Leicester butcher and when the title was confirmed he was with his mother Renata in Italy.

The following season, though, it all fell apart.

Poor recruitment, baffling tactical decisions and an unsettled dressing room made his departure almost inevitable, with Leicester a point above the relegation zone, and there was no room for sentiment when the axe fell.

Ranieri, though, had won a place in the hearts of all Leicester fans – something which was made clear by the vocal reception when he returned to pay his respects following the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

After an unremarkable spell at Nantes, Ranieri will be hoping to prove he still has what it takes – a sentiment shared by all Fulham fans.

— Press Association



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