THE RETURN OF THE TINKERMAN
It was a surprise of massive proportions when Leicester City replaced Nigel Pearson on the 13th of July this year with Claudio Ranieri known to many in the press as ‘The Tinker man’. Here’s what you need to know about the veteran coach.
BY STEVE NJUGUNA
Claudio Ranieri was born 20th October 1951. His early career in soccer involved a stint at A.S. Roma, one of Italy’s most successful soccer outfits. He is however remembered rather fondly around Europe for his managerial career, most notably his stint at Chelsea in the early 21st century where many crediting him with making Chelsea a reputable force in the English Premier League. He has also forged a reputation as being able to get teams from lower leagues into the top tier with amazing results.
He began his coaching career at Italian amateur sides Vigor Lamezia and Campania Puteolana in the late 80’s. He however made a name with Cagliari who were languishing in the third tier when he got there and he managed to have them promoted to the Italian top flight in successive seasons. He was then hired by Italian giants Napoli where he managed for two seasons before moving to second tier side Fiorentina in 1993 where he led them to promotion and in 1996 won his first major pieces of silverware as he led them to winning the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italia.
His performances earned him attention from Spanish powerhouse Valencia in 1997 where he guided them to a Copa del Rey title in 1999. He then moved to Atletico Madrid for a brief period before Chelsea came calling in 2000. He was accredited with buying some youngsters such as Frank Lampard and William Gallas who would go on to achieve huge success in Chelsea’s golden era. He was however criticized for selling influential midfielder Dennis Wise. In the 2001-2002 he got Chelsea to the FA cup final where they lost to Arsenal. The next season he received the nickname ‘The Tinkerman’ from British press as he was fond of rotating his squad frequently. He however silenced his critics as Chelsea wrested a UEFA Champions league spot from Liverpool on the final day of the campaign in a 2-1 win.
The 2003 -2004 season was much better for him as his team fought its way to the Champions semi-final and were 2nd in the league. However his rotation and substitution policy still attracted criticism. He was relieved of his duty at the end of May though Chelsea faithful acknowledge the huge impact his signings made in the golden age as players such as Jean Claude Makelele and Joe Cole played a major part in subsequent seasons.
He returned to Valencia where he had a torrid season despite winning the UEFA Super Cup and was sacked in February 2005. This saw a return to Italy as he took over at struggling Parma in 2007 where he assisted them to avoid relegation. This attracted an offer from Juventus which he accepted. He helped them climb to a third place finish in his first season but his second was not very good and he was sacked in 2009. This saw a move to Roma where he had a two year stint which saw them lose out the league and Coppa Italia to Inter Milan in 2010. He resigned in early 2011.
He then had an unsuccessful one year spell at Inter Milan before joining French second tier side Monaco, assisting them to the top flight and then leading them to a second place finish in the French top flight. He was however sacked on May 2014 despite the club’s good performance. He was then signed by the Greek national team, though he had stayed barely six months before being fired in November 2014.
On 13th July 2015, Ranieri was appointed as Leicester City coach after the English Premier League side sacked their coach Nigel Pearson. Knowing his reputation of rotating squads and shifting multiple clubs, one would hope that he has a successful stint at Leicester despite the troubles he has faced at other clubs.