Claudio Ranieri

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Italian president’s burning remarks provide path for USMNT

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There’s no question whether the Italian national team job is a different class than the United States men’s national team.

Aside from the fact that both sides failed to qualify for the World Cup, have a vacant manager’s chair, and decent recent results at youth level, the disparity is striking (and not all in negative ways for American fans).

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Italy has won four World Cups and a EURO, and played in four additional title games. Their domestic league is Top Five, and only six pool players who’ve been called up in the last 12 months come from outside Serie A. Three play in the Premier League, two in La Liga, and one in Ligue 1. It’s qualifying slate meant top Spain or face a home-and-home playoff with another top European team.

On the other hand, the U.S. faces the most forgiving qualifying run this side of Oceania. It’s room for improvement on the international stage is much higher, and its current group is so much further from its potential than the Italian side that it’s hard to find an apt comparison (Consider that, playoff loss aside, Italy has beat the following sides in the last 18 months: Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, and Uruguay).

Differences/similarities aside — and yes, it’s a tad ridiculous to get this deep into what separates Italy from the U.S. in terms of soccer — the USSF could do worse than monitoring how the Italians are handling their World Cup disaster.

1) Accepting responsibility without caveats about their previous successes — Here’s federation president Carlo Tavecchio (who it must be noted has said some reprehensible racist things. We would never gloss over something like that, but we’re talking about the soccer side here). After blasting player selection, he then said, ‘Yeah, but I hired the dude”:

“How can you not play [Lorenzo] Insigne? I told the staff, not him. I can’t intervene [with the coach], there are rules. I have to acknowledge it; I chose the coach. It’s been four days that I haven’t slept. I wake up continuously. We have always played crosses against tall defenders, some almost two meters tall. We had to play around them with the little players, who were on the bench.”

2) Waiting a while to make the correct move — By most accounts, this is very much the plan for the United States (especially with a presidential election looming in February). While most new presidents wouldn’t begrudge the hiring of an highly-qualified name, plenty of prospective bosses would want to wait until the new (or current) man in charge cements his place.

Tavecchio dropped plenty of names, and is especially interested in Chelsea’s Antonio Conte. And he said it’ll be worth the wait.

“We’re looking for the best. They already have commitments until June from a contractual point of view. Then when we get to June, who will be free? The ones are Ancelotti, Conte, Allegri, [Claudio] Ranieri and Mancini. This is the truth of those available.”

Granted the U.S. does not have the wealth of elite experience coaches that Italy does, but the Americans are also not limited to hiring an American.

USMNT interim boss Dave Sarachan is a respected soccer name who is not going to light the shop on fire while the right hire is made during this upcoming string of friendlies.

It’s a top-bottom failure. It includes nearly every part of the system, but the man in charge is the most important part considering that the USMNT should qualify for every World Cup and somehow managed to bungle it.

America needs a bungle-free hire.

Lille starts Bielsa era with 3-0 win over Ranieri’s Nantes

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PARIS (AP) Lille’s attacking potential this season was on display as coach Marcelo Bielsa’s new team started its French league campaign with a 3-0 win over Nantes on Sunday.

[ MORE: Coutinho to Barca? And more transfer rumors ]

After finishing a disappointing 11th last season, Lille hired the Argentine coach – known as “El Loco Bielsa” (Crazy Bielsa) to his fans – with the aim of returning to the Champions League while playing an exciting brand of football.

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Lille also recruited more than a dozen of new players and the northern club’s squad appears to have gelled.

Facing an unimaginative side, Lille dominated from the start but had to wait until the 48th to open the scoring through Paraguay defender Junior Alonso. Nicolas De Preville doubled his team’s lead from the spot and Anwar El Ghazi put the win beyond doubt.

The match also featured a duel between Bielsa and another prominent coach, Italian Claudio Ranieri. The managers, who had a quick chat before the game, returned to the French top flight after spending several years away.

With better players at his disposal following Lille’s ambitious recruiting campaign this summer, Bielsa’s team was in control from the start.

“We played a high-energy match, on a fast rhythm, and we made only a few fouls,” Bielsa said. “I believe that we deserved the goals we scored, and that it is a fair result. Let’s see if we can keep that rhythm and speed we want to play with throughout the whole season.”

Lille imposed a fast tempo by pressing high on the pitch – the Argentine’s trademark – and created several chances in the opening stages with fast moves down the flanks that caught out the Nantes back four.

But for all their possession the hosts lacked a cutting edge in the box. Bielsa’s influence was evident in the 14th when Nicolas de Preville tried and missed an acrobatic volley. The French striker did not give up though, tracked the ball down and managed to recover it before setting up newly signed Luiz Araujo, whose shot was blocked.

Nantes could have moved ahead against the run of the play when Abdoulaye Toure recovered the ball 20 meters from the hosts’ box and forced Mike Maignan into a superb dive with a long and powerful shot. The Lille `keeper managed to parry the ball onto the crossbar and Prejuce Nakoulma, alone in front of goal, fluffed his header from close range.

Lille finally broke the deadlock three minutes into the second half after taking advantage of a poor clearance from Nantes captain Leo Dubois. Alonso received the ball outside the box and unleashed a powerful strike into the bottom corner.

Maignan made a decisive save in the next minute to deny Emiliano Sala’s chip attempt at the conclusion of a slick counterattack to keep his team’s lead intact.

Lille was awarded a penalty in the 68th after Kevin Malcuit was fouled by Nicolas Pallois in the box, and De Preville converted from the spot by sending Maxime Dupe the wrong way. El Ghazi made it 3-0 three minutes later with a clean finish. El Ghazi celebrated his goal by taking his shirt off, revealing a tribute to former Ajax teammate Abdelhak Nouri, who collapsed during a pre-season game this summer and suffered brain damage.

Bielsa guided Marseille to a fourth-place finish in 2015 while Ranieri – who famously led English club Leicester to the Premier League title in 2016 – helped Monaco win the second division title in his first season, and then finish runner-up in the top flight in 2013-14.

Claudio Ranieri announced as new coach of Nantes

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Claudio Ranieri has landed.

The Italian manager who famously led Leicester City to the Premier League crown and was fired within a year has been hired by Ligue 1 side Nantes on a two-year deal.

[ MORE: Picking the Confederations Cup ]

There was some speculation that Ranieri would return to the PL, but instead takes the reins of his second Ligue 1 club. Ranieri led Monaco to promotion from Ligue 2 and then a runner-up finish in Ligue 1.

He’s also managed Greece, Chelsea and a host of the biggest clubs in Italy including Inter Milan, Roma, Juventus, Napoli, and Fiorentina. Ranieri has also coached Valencia twice.

Ranieri needed a special dispensation from France to take the job, as he’s over the maximum coach’s age of 65.

Nantes granted special permission to hire 65-year-old Ranieri

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NANTES, France (AP) Claudio Ranieri will try to revive his career in France after the French soccer league gave permission to Nantes to hire the former Leicester manager on Tuesday.

According to several media reports in France, the Italian coach will sign a two-year deal and will be assisted by four deputy coaches.

Nantes had asked for a special dispensation because Ranieri has reached the coach’s age limit of 65.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Monday | Sunday ]

Ranieri, who guided Leicester to the English Premier League title in 2016 but was fired nine months later, will replace Sergio Conceicao. The Portuguese coach left Nantes earlier this month to take charge of FC Porto.

Ranieri has also coached Juventus, Roma and Inter Milan in his much-traveled career and was in charge of several other Italian sides as well as Atletico Madrid and Chelsea.

Under Ranieri’s guidance, Leicester won the Premier League at preseason odds of 5,000-1, a year after narrowly escaping relegation. He was fired in February with the team one point and one place above the relegation zone in a woeful title defense.

Ranieri has already coached in the French league, from 2012-14, when he won the League 2 title with Monaco then led the Principality side to a runner-up finish in the topflight.

[ MORE: England, France walk out to “Don’t Look Back in Anger” ]

Eight-time French champion Nantes was expected to continue with Conceicao this season after extending his contract until 2020. But Nantes said last week it had failed to persuade him to stay.

The former Portugal winger worked wonders in his short spell with Nantes. When Conceicao took charge in December the club was languishing in 19th place, but it went on to finish seventh – just outside of a spot in the Europa League.

Nantes won the last of its eight titles in 2001.

Ranieri offered Nantes spot, but wants a Premier League job

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According to the Telegraph, Claudio Ranieri has been offered the open managerial position at French club FC Nantes, but the Italian would favor to return to the Premier League, and is sitting on the Ligue 1 offer in the hopes that an English job will crop up.

Ranieri has been without a job after being fired by Leicester City in February, and wishes to return to the league where he won the title a year ago.

Nantes was left without a boss after Sergio Conceicao left last week to take the FC Porto job in his home country. Conceicao had joined Nantes in December and took the club from bottom of the table to a seventh-placed finish, just missing out on a Europa League berth.

There is only one Premier League position currently open, and that is at Crystal Palace where Sam Allardyce quit recently for undisclosed reasons. In the Championship, both Sunderland and Leeds United are without a manager, but it’s unclear if Ranieri would drop down a league with the Nantes offer already in hand.

Ranieri obviously has the Premier League title to his name, but it seems that clubs are wary of the circumstances surrounding his Leicester City exit. There were extensive rumors of player unrest, and for a squad to lose faith in the manager who brought them a historic championship is clearly giving clubs pause when it comes to hiring the Italian.