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The tide has turned??????

PLUCKER2010-05-02 16:58:56 +0000 #1
As a Roman, Claudio Ranieri is well aware of how long it takes to build an empire, but that has not deterred him from tearing apart in a day the one constructed by Gianluca Vialli over the past two-and-a-half years.

The Italian held court at Chelsea's training ground yesterday and, in the space of a few brief minutes, rendered the foundations of his predecessor's methods extinct. Attempting to scrap the expensive squad of players assembled by Vialli would be both stupid and unworkable. Therefore, Ranieri's changes must be more fundamental. He claims that Stamford Bridge is missing backbone.

'Tell us something we don't know Claudio,' was the favoured response to that but the surprise for Chelsea fans is that their new continental coach has pinpointed an English and not a foreign spine as the way to win the title.

When asked if he agreed with Arsene Wenger's belief that to be successful in this country required a central pillar through the team which had a strong sense of national identity, Ranieri's reply was blunt.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said: 'Yes. I think that there has to be an English backbone to the team. It's the same in Italy and in Spain where the backbone of the team has to come from the country in which you are playing.'

Given his authoritarian style of management, he is certain to get his way, although he was quick to end speculation about a spending spree based on Kevin Keegan's squad lists.

Indeed, Ranieri may even help Keegan by encouraging his young players - Jon Terry, Jody Morris and John Harley - to come through and augment the bulldog spirit of Dennis Wise.

'I've always believed in young players and if there are players available and the price is right we will buy them but I think the best way to go forward is to develop our youth,' said Ranieri.

'I don't look at players' names or reputations. I play those guys who are performing best and I've said that to everyone from youth team, reserve and first-team. If a player is fit and, more importantly, playing well then he will play because I don't believe that it would be right to take him out when he is peaking.'

Ranieri's first move, however, could still be to raid his former club Atletico Madrid for 20-year-old Portugal midfielder Hugo Leal, unhappy at not being a first-team player. Ranieri bought Leal from Benfica in the summer of 1999.

Like Julius Caesar, the new man at the Bridge will rule with an iron fist and demand that those in his charge give everything for the cause. When asked if he was a disciplinarian he replied: 'No, I'm a lovely chap as long as everyone does what I say.

'Winning is important but I don't just want my teams to win, I want to see how they fight and how they behave. I want the players to give their very soul for the supporters because it is the supporters who pay their wages.'

Ranieri was clearly as eager to make a good impression with the media as he was with the players and fans before his first game at Old Trafford on Saturday. He mused on England as 'The temple of football' and of the English as ahead of everyone else. 'You are the masters and we are the students,' he said, which maybe explains his enthusiasm for homebred talent.

Ranieri has never won a championship with any club but he claims that will increase his desire at Chelsea. He looked forward to the weekend, saying: 'In terms of quality we are equal to Manchester United but in terms of teamwork and spirit we're behind. I will try to instil my way of thinking and if we lose I want the club to lose with my character.'

The new leader of Chelsea will not have to wait too long to discover just how much help he needs from others.



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