Tuesday 27 September 2016

The ups and downs of 'The Tinkerman' Claudio Ranieri at Chelsea

Published 11/12/2015 | 13:16

Claudio Ranieri pictured during his time at Chelsea
Claudio Ranieri pictured during his time at Chelsea

Claudio Ranieri faces Chelsea with Leicester on Monday, the first time he has come up against the Blues in English football since leaving Stamford Bridge in 2004.

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He earned the nickname 'the Tinkerman' while at the club for his rotation policy while also taking them into the Champions League for the first time.

Between 2000 and 2004 Ranieri saw huge change at Chelsea and, here, Press Association Sport looks at the highs and lows of Ranieri's four-year reign.

FA CUP HEARTBREAK

During his four years at Chelsea Ranieri failed to win a trophy but came close when they reached the 2002 FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium.

Having beaten Fulham 1-0 in the semi-final Chelsea faced Arsenal looking to regain the cup they won in 2000. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was a major doubt with a calf injury and he was a passenger as Chelsea struggled to match the Gunners. Two goals in 10 minutes from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg gave Arsenal a deserved win.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION

After finishing sixth in 2001-02 the pressure was on Ranieri to deliver in 2002-03 and it came down to a final day shoot-out against Liverpool.

Gerard Houllier's side came to Stamford Bridge knowing a win would send them into the top four at Chelsea's expense.

Sami Hyppia gave Liverpool an 11th-minute lead but Marcel Desailly levelled almost immediately. Jesper Gronkjaer won it before Milan Baros had a goal disallowed and Steven Gerrard was sent off late on.

Victory sent Chelsea into the Champions League for the first time and they have qualified every season since - although needed to rely on winning the competition to qualify in 2012 after finishing sixth in the Barclays Premier League.

ROMAN'S RICHES 2003-04

Roman Abramovich's takeover in 2003 gave Ranieri unrivalled spending power and Chelsea flexed their financial muscles.

Glen Johnson was the first to sign under Ranieri's revolution as Damien Duff, Joe Cole, Wayne Bridge, Juan Sebastian Veron, Alexei Smertin, Hernan Crespo, Adrian Mutu and Claude Makelele followed.

It was a new dawn at Stamford Bridge and time in English football as Abramovich ushered in the era of foreign ownership.

Scott Parker was added to the squad in the January but only Makelele, Cole and Bridge can be labelled as total successes.

Yet all the money could not stop Arsenal's 'Invincibles' beating Chelsea to the title by 11 points.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AGONY

As well as missing out on the title Chelsea came agonisingly close to reaching the Champions League final in 2004 after a 5-3 aggregate semi-final defeat to Monaco.

Having beaten Arsenal in the quarter-final Ranieri was criticised after Chelsea lost the first leg 3-1 to 10-man Monaco as he made a series of strange substitutes, replacing Mario Melchiot with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink then removing Scott Parker for Robert Huth.

It unbalanced the side and they conceded two late goals from Fernando Morientes and Shabani Nonda to gift Monaco the advantage.

A 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge sealed Chelsea's fate, after Jesper Gronkjaer and Frank Lampard gave the Blues a 2-0 lead.

Monaco were beaten by Jose Mourinho's Porto in the final, Mourinho's last game before he replaced Ranieri in west London in 2004.

RUMOURS AND SPECULATION

The writing was on the wall before Jose Mourinho swept into Stamford Bridge to succeed Ranieri and the Italian's final year at the Bridge was blighted by speculation over his job once Roman Abramovich took charge.

Sven-Goran Eriksson was heavily linked to Chelsea as soon as Abramovich bought the club in 2003 while Mourinho was touted as Ranieri's replacement long before he was appointed.

Ranieri earned praise for his poise during the speculation surrounding his job as he knew the writing was on the wall with the Italian telling the press "Hello my sharks, welcome to the funeral," before the second leg against Monaco.

Press Association

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