CLAUDIO’S AT IT AGAIN

By Richard Micallef
Jan 22nd, 2008

Looking back at the records of previous Chelsea managers since the appointment of Ruud Gullit, I would classify both Gullit’s and Vialli’s tenure as qualified successes, while Jose’s was, needless to say, out of this world. In defence of both Ruud and Luca, one has to bear in mind that they took over a work in progress started by Glenn Hoddle and during their combined four years as managers at the Bridge brought an unprecedented trophy haul to The Bridge.

One also has to point out that they were competing with a Manchester United team that seemed to have unlimited financial resources. The bottom line is that Ruud and especially Luca established us as one of the big four, no mean feat bearing in mind the mid-table mediocrity we were coming from.

That leaves Claudio Ranieri. Claudio arrived in October 2000 and lasted till the end of season 2003/4. Probably no more than a handful of Chelsea fans had heard about him when he was sprung on the fans by Ken Bates and Colin Hutchinson. Good old Ken talked him up as some sort of super coach, implying in the process that both Gullit and Vialli were not real coaches.

At the time I thought Ranieri’s appointment was a surprise, not because I knew nothing about him but rather, through my following Italian football, knew that this guy was for from the winner he was being portrayed. He won one Italian Cup in more than a decade of coaching, a competition treated very much like the Full Members Cup was treated in England during its short existence.

Under Claudio we never won a thing, never seriously challenged for the league title and reached one FA Cup Final. And yet we fans took him to our hearts. He was the beneficiary of Roman’s initial mega spending spree and yet by February we were out of the title race once more.

I cannot say I didn’t like Claudio. The appalling way he was treated by the club during his last year there was bordering on criminal. His sense of humour in the face of all the speculation milling around him was nothing short of heroic. He certainly helped in building the careers of some of our players, most notably JT and Lamps.

What did my head in were his repeated claims in his last year that his team had to learn to walk before he could run and that any title talk was very premature. I remember thinking – for chrissakes Claudio, the owner has just gone on a record spending spree, brought in some of the best players in the world and you moan about having to learn to walk.

What a contrast to just a year later, when Jose’ walked in, nominated himself as the best manager in Europe with the best bunch of players in the Premiership and duly went on to win the Premiership and Carling Cup in his first year. And just for good measure, he kept on winning for the next two years.

Five years on Claudio is at it again. Much to everyone’s surprise he was appointed manager at Juventus at the start of the season. Juve had just been promoted back to Serie A at the end of last season, having been stripped of their title and relegated to Serie B the year before.

The circumstances of his appointment couldn’t have been more different to those he had found at Chelsea. At Juventus winning is a right, by hook or by crook. Juve fans go into every season, expecting, not hoping, to win trophies. But Claudio re-introduced himself to the Italian press using his old story line – we have to learn how to walk before we can start running. While that was okay with Chelsea fans in 2003, this line of thought did not go down well with Juve fans and especially the voracious Turin press.

Although some of the players who won the title in 2006, most notably Cannavaro, Ibrahimovic and Zambrotta abandoned ship when the club was stripped of the title and demoted, the majority stayed on. Buffon, Del Piero, Camoranesi, Trezeguet and Nedved stayed loyal to the team and helped them win promotion at first time of asking. They also brought in some useful players like Iaquinta (the Italian national team centre forward), Salihamidzic from Bayern Munich and our old friend Tiago.

After yesterday’s goalless home draw against Sampdoria, which followed the previous Sunday’s nil – nil draw in Catania, Ranieri threw in the towel. In the post match interview he said that winning Serie A was never a realistic objective and the main aim for the season was to qualify for the Champions League because, surprise surprise, “we have to learn how to walk before we can run.”

Juve fans did not take kindly to this. If you can read some Italian go to http://www.calciomercato.com/index.php?c=21&a=68078. – If not I will just say that the long and short of it is that Juve fans want Ranieri out, and they want him out now.

If you have a spare tenner and want to put it on a bet of which will be Jose’s next club, you could do much worse than nip down to the bookies today while you can still get around 20 – 1 on it.

Contact
Shed End fans