Tuesday 17 September 2019

Focus on Claudio Ranieri in his first match as Fulham manager

Ranieri began his reign with a 3-2 win over Southampton.

Claudio Ranieri enjoyed a winning start to his reign at Fulham (Steven Paston/PA)
Claudio Ranieri enjoyed a winning start to his reign at Fulham (Steven Paston/PA)

By Matt McGeehan, Press Association Sport

Claudio Ranieri made his Premier League return as Fulham boss in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Southampton.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the 67-year-old former Chelsea and Leicester manager’s afternoon in detail.


Claudio Ranieri (left) is greeted by Southampton manager Mark Hughes (Steven Paston/PA)

There was a spring in the step of those walking from Putney Bridge underground station and optimism in the air at Craven Cottage. There was no big introduction, but Ranieri was loudly applauded. He had told Fulham fans not to expect a miracle, but after a topsy-turvy encounter which the Cottagers won, more will be expected of the Italian.

Tinkering cleverly

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring Fulham’s third – and decisive – goal (Steven Paston/PA)

Ranieri made just one change to the starting line-up which began Fulham’s 2-0 loss at Liverpool in Slavisa Jokanovic’s final match as boss. Jean Michael Seri came into midfield ahead of Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa. He prioritised defensive solidity, but there is plenty of work to do in that respect. In Ryan Sessegnon, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle he has attacking players who can worry opposition defenders.

Defensive toil

Pizza was the cleansheet incentive at Leicester, here it is burgers. The Cottagers and League Two Macclesfield were the only sides to have failed to keep cleansheets in English league football prior to kick-off. Now it is just the Cottagers. And on this evidence the Italian has plenty of work to do on the training ground, despite a first win in three months.

Entertainment value

Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham received plaudits for their attacking style, but it did not yield results in the top flight. Gordon Davies, Fulham’s record goalscorer with 179 goals in 450 matches, was the half-time guest and commented on the best performance since the only prior league win, against Burnley on August 26. Ranieri said he would rather win ugly than lose in style. And he would likely have settled for a more straightforward day.

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