While the speculation about his future continues, even Claudio Ranieri does not believe he will be in charge at Chelsea next season.
Ranieri may be leading his side into a Champions League quarter-final and currently sitting second-placed in the Premiership but he still describes himself as a ‘dead man walking’.
The former Napoli, Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid manager said: “I go day by day, step by step, that is my philosophy. It has been said I am a dead man walking, so I want to see only tomorrow.
‘Since the beginning (of Abramovich’s takeover) I put in my mind that, even if I win everything I may go home.”
Ranieri is clearly a man who cannot be taken for a fool and only wants to work with the full support of his employers.
He had felt obliged to resign as Atletico Madrid coach in March 2000, saying: “If we weren’t winning, the administrator said he would be obligated to fire me. That’s football. He said he was under a lot of pressure. The words had a huge impact on me. I’m a man who dies for his ideals.
“I had the opportunity to leave in December but it seemed best to help the team. I don’t have the same motivation anymore. I’d prefer that the players have another coach with more strength.”
Ranieri joined Chelsea soon after, in September 2000 declaring: “I was flattered by the call. If there are roses they will bloom.”
It seems as if Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, now has another manager in mind and it will be left to someone else to oversee a blossoming side. Ranieri’s tactics could be one reason behind the declining support of his employers. For a man whose motto is seen as, ‘the system is sacred’, he leaves little room for the type of expansive and exciting game expected by his chairman.
Fabio Capello, Ottmar Hitzfeld and even Carlo Ancelotti are hardly synomous with exciting football either, and Marcello Lippi, one of the few managers who could bring such a style of football to Stamford Bridge, saw his Juventus side crash out of the Champions League in the first knock-out round.
Perhaps Abramovich could be guilty of being the ‘tinkerman’ himself if he replaces Ranieri and that in his search for something else he will be letting the best man walk away from the club.
By Tom Levitt
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