Saturday 15 December 2018

Burgers on the menu if Fulham keep clean sheets under Claudio Ranieri

The Italian has replaced Slavisa Jokanovic at Craven Cottage.

Claudio Ranieri plans to use burgers, not pizza, as an incentive for his Fulham players (Simon Cooper/PA Images)
Claudio Ranieri plans to use burgers, not pizza, as an incentive for his Fulham players (Simon Cooper/PA Images)

By Matt McGeehan, Press Association Sport

Claudio Ranieri wants his Fulham players to show fighting spirit and plans to reward clean sheets with burgers, not pizza.

The 67-year-old was appointed Fulham boss on Wednesday, as owner Shahid Khan sacked Slavisa Jokanovic with the Cottagers bottom of the Premier League and beaten in all of their last seven games in all competitions.

Ranieri offered his Leicester players the incentive of free pizza if they did not concede at the start of their memorable title-winning season in 2015-16.

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Claudio Ranieri has agreed a “multi-year” deal to manage Fulham (Simon Cooper/PA)

“Pizza is not enough now,” Ranieri said at his unveiling on Friday.

“I have to promise something more. It’s better everybody to McDonald’s. I look always forward. I’m an ambitious man. I believe I have good players.

“Now I have to choose players who show me fighting spirit. With quality, fighting spirit and unity, the players help each other.”

Ranieri insisted the success with Leicester was a one-off.

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Ranieri won the Premier League title in 2015-16 with Leicester (Nick Potts/PA)

“That was a bonus. A fairytale I forget,” said Ranieri, who vowed not to look into the past.

“Don’t think about the miracle. This is a bad moment, because Fulham is at the bottom.”

He was sacked by the Foxes in February 2017, nine months after the 5,000-1 title triumph, and spent last season in Ligue 1 with Nantes.

Ranieri on Friday paused to reflect on last month’s helicopter crash which saw Foxes owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha die along with four others.

When you lose the ball I want to see you with an anchor, like pirates Claudio Ranieri on his defensive plans

Ranieri added: “What he did in the city with the people, with the fans, for everybody. He has a big heart. And when I think how many times I took the helicopter, it’s unbelievable.”

The Cottagers have just five points from 12 matches and Ranieri has identified the need to shore up a porous defence.

“Play football, play well, but when you lose the ball I want to see you with an anchor, like pirates,” he added.

Ranieri has been given a “multi-year” contract and one task by Khan is “to be safe”.

His first match in charge is the November 24 clash with Southampton, which comes after the international break, with fixtures against Chelsea on December 2 and Leicester on December 5 following.

“I think only of Southampton,” he added. “In this moment it’s important: don’t think about other things. Southampton, Southampton. And then after Southampton, Chelsea.

“I have just two days to prepare for the match. It’s important the feeling we can create together.”

Jokanovic secured promotion with Fulham playing attractive football.

And the Cottagers spent approximately £100million to bolster their squad in the summer on the likes of Jean Michael Seri – previously linked with Barcelona – Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Alfie Mawson.

Ranieri insisted results are now far more important than style.

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Ranieri succeeds his former player Slavisa Jokanovic, pictured, as Fulham boss (Martin Rickett/PA)

He added: “I hope we can play well, but if I play well and lose the match it’s a big problem. I hope to play badly and win the match. Now it’s important to win the match.”

Ranieri signed Jokanovic for Chelsea and had little sympathy after being appointed his successor, describing the move as part of the job.

He added: “Joka was a fantastic player and also as a manager he made very good things. He made fantastic things here in Fulham, but that is our life, the life of the manager or coach, when something goes badly, you have to change.

“It happened to me in Leicester, not only Leicester. It’s normal.”

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