There were many names rumored to be in the running for the Roma job in the days leading up to EDF’s dismissal. From Paulo Sousa to Roberto Donadoni to Vincenzo Montella to Cristian Panuccci, the names just kept coming. However, in the end, whether it was by choice or process of self-elimination from some of the other candidates, the Giallorossi ended up with the man, who in the end, just felt like the right choice for Roma’s current plight: Claudio Ranieri.
Ranieri may be a Roma retread, but he seems like the perfect man to read the club’s barometer and adjust accordingly in a short time. Ranieri brought the Lupi agonizingly close to their first Scudetto in years during his first tenure in charge and now will try to salvage a top four finish from what has been an underwhelming season. Although this is a short term gig, Ranieri, a native bred Roman, brings a passion for the caretaker’s role that would’ve been unlikely to find in the other candidates. If you weren’t convinced by the choice, his comments may sway your opinion.
Ranieri started out by speaking about the emotions of a return to Roma and what ties him so much to the club.
“For me coming back to Rome means a lot, it means everything. I have always been a Roma fan, since I was a child. I usually sleep a lot during the night – but last night, when I realised I had this opportunity, I could not sleep. And that’s always a good sign.”
“It’s my romanita. I was born in San Saba and I went to school in Testaccio. Roma is in my DNA, my whole life is linked with Rome.”
While that Romanità may at times blind some to what is best for Roma, at a time like this it seems like someone with a true love and passion for the colors is necessary to inspire the squad to a top four finish. That pride for the club is what Ranieri will ask for from his players over the last three months of the season.
“I will ask all the players to give their best, to help each other and work as a team. To represent the club like our fans want them to; to wear the shirt with pride, to represent the city with pride. Only like that will I be satisfied. Results are important, of course, but what interests me first and foremost is that for 90 minutes the players give everything they have.”
That passion and pride will certainly be important if Roma is to achieve its goals for the remainder of the season. During the interview, Ranieri outlined his focus in righting the ship.
The first thing I need to look at is the mindset of the players. After two tough defeats and the exit from the Champions League, of course the players are going to be a bit down – but that is already in the past.
”We need to re-start, as men do. I always try to face football like that, every day. We are lucky, we play a game and get well rewarded for it. I think I am a very lucky person. But as a result we need to give everything we have. We need to represent the shirt, the club and the fans.
”The fans are passionate and of course they are going to be upset when the team loses. But if you see that the team has lost in the last minute, with a referee not giving a penalty and not looking at VAR, you have to help boost the team. We will give everything for the fans.”
It’s been eight years since Ranieri was last at the helm of the Giallorossi back in 2011. With that in mind, the Roman spoke about how Trigoria has changed, as well as, how he has changed as a manager.
“It’s been a long day, but a great one – when you are doing something enjoyable you don’t feel any fatigue. Trigoria has definitely changed a lot, there are a lot of new things in place and the club has clearly built something worthy of an international squad. As a Roma fan, I can’t help but be delighted with that.”
“I’ve changed, because when I started 32 years ago or so the game was different. If I am getting the call from Roma now, a side competing for the Champions League, then it means I know a thing or two. That desire to keep improving has never left me. I’m definitely a better coach than last year, or two years ago, or when I started in the game.”
Ranieri concluded the interview with a message to the fans, asking for them to stay close to the club and support it during this tough time.
“I have already spoken with the squad, and I asked them to give me certain things. To the fans, I would like to say that this is a tough moment for the club – but we have 12 games to play. We have the chance to get back into the Champions League; the guys are a good bunch – perhaps some of the younger ones are still getting used to playing in an environment quite like this.
”So I would ask our supporters to stay close to the boys, especially in the tough moments. Because in the end those that want us to do well the most are the fans.”