Thursday 13 December 2018

Ranieri: Mourinho was the first to welcome me back, he’s a ‘friendly friend’

Ranieri’s struggling Fulham side travel to Old Trafford on Saturday.

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri goes up against Jose Mourinho again this weekend (Steven Paston/PA).
Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri goes up against Jose Mourinho again this weekend (Steven Paston/PA).

By Declan Warrington, Press Association Sport

Jose Mourinho was the first manager to welcome Claudio Ranieri back to the Premier League when he was appointed Fulham boss.

Fulham on Saturday visit Old Trafford, where Mourinho’s Manchester United will hope to secure their first Premier League victory in five games, reuniting the pair for the first time since Ranieri’s departure from Leicester.

It was after that dismissal, just nine months after leading the Foxes to the title, that Mourinho wore the Italian’s initials, CR, in a show of solidarity with a fellow manager and Ranieri has revealed that they remain in regular contact.

The Portuguese has frequently clashed with other high-profile managers and had previously criticised the job Ranieri did at Chelsea and in Serie A with Roma when they were both managing in Italy.

But the Fulham manager said: “He was the first who sent me a message to say welcome back. He is a very friendly friend.

“He told me, ‘Welcome back, all the best’. We speak about everything.

“It was a text message. Sometimes we speak. He’s a fantastic man.

“I know him for a long time, when he came to Chelsea and in Italy, and he was very polite with me.

“He’s a great man, coach, manager and also the football is important.

“I enjoy very much (being back in the Premier League), I’ve come back home.”

Fulham produced an encouraging performance in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester, giving the 67-year-old Ranieri one victory, one draw and one defeat from his three matches in charge.

In United they face a team that are under pressure and struggling for form, but Ranieri insists his side will need to be “perfect” if they are to succeed.

“Manchester are one of the best teams in the Premier League and also in the Champions League,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic team and stadium and we want to make a point. We know it’s hard, but nothing is impossible.

“Manchester are getting better, for us it will be difficult. We must make a perfect performance.

“Every manager would like to win, the desire is to win, but we have a great respect for Manchester.

“Every match we improve, but it’s not easy because when you stay at the bottom of the table, it’s not so (easy to be) confident 100 per cent.

“I gave my confidence to my players, but if you have two or three good results the confidence of the team grows immediately and I am confident we will do this.”

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