On the topic of Claudio Ranieri and Chelsea, David Platt once famously said: “Building a team that can win the title and actually steering this team to the title are two different matters entirely.” Seven years on and Ranieri has yet to learn from his mistakes and is a man distinctly familiar with the notion of déjà vu as he leaves yet another club amidst claims of poor results, puzzling tactics and dressing room discontent.
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Ranieri is blessed with the ability to revive a side that may have fallen by the wayside, trying out different tactics and purchasing key players to rebuild the team. He is always a man that can guarantee you a decent standing within a league but hardly ever manages to secure glory largely because the Roman Coach does not know how to handle pressure and many divine opportunities for great trophies have been missed due to poor tactical choices. Whilst his constant tinkering has earned him stunning victories such as the Derby win in April 2010, they are also the reason behind why so many players eventually lost faith in the Coach, annoyed with his inability to field a proper line-up from the get-go and confused by the puzzling substitutions that have a tendency to back-fire. Without the backing of your team, players would rarely perform to their maximum ability creating a Catch-22 situation and only forces the Tinkerman to tinker even more leading to a complete crisis.
During his time at Chelsea, Ranieri’s bizarre second half substitutions against Monaco led to a terrible loss that left the entire dressing room seething. By choosing to narrow the shape of the team, Monaco exploited the opportunity to counter-attack to devastating effect, leaving Chelsea wondering just how they relinquished a 2-0 lead to miss a glorious opportunity of reaching the Champions League final. After the game rumours surfaced of players’ unrest and after that it was obvious that Ranieri’s days were numbered as the side lost complete faith in their Manager.
The problem with Ranieri is that when his side is suffering, he rarely knows how to regroup and earn back the trust of his players. Jose Mourinho has taught us that in order to succeed, a harmonious group environment must be created and that the psychological impact of the Coach could well determine the success of a team. Yet this is where Ranieri fails.
At Juventus the Tinkerman’s biggest mistake was his failure to reach out to the veterans of the side. With the likes of Gigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero visibly annoyed at the tactics deployed and the lack of team unity, Ranieri continued to tinker with the formation as opposed to recreating a healthy group dynamic. Meanwhile at Valencia, a dressing room uninterested in listening to Ranieri’s ideas eventually saw him leave in similar circumstances. After suffering from a string of poor results, Ranieri made the mistake of saying in a press conference prior to a match against Real Madrid: “We’re playing against tanks when all we’ve got is knives or swords.” Is it any wonder that Valencia completely collapsed in the match?
Results tell us that tactically Ranieri can get it right. However his fundamental error in Coaching stems from the fact that he simply cannot sustain the support of those around him long enough to succeed.