Claudio Ranieri, how you’ve been missed.
The veteran Italian manager is back in the Premier League, having been installed this week by Fulham in place of the sacked Slavisa Jokanovic, and just like his time with Leicester City and Chelsea before, Ranieri still shows a quick turn of phrase. With one win in 12, five points, 31 goals allowed and a minus 20 goal differential, Fulham sits dead last in the Premier League standings, four points from rising out of the drop zone. The club also has a tough stretch ahead, with matches against Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United to come in the next 30 days.
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While at Leicester City, where he led the club to the unexpected 2015-2016 Premier League title, Ranieri joked that if the team earned a clean sheet, he’d order them pizza. They came through on their half of the promise, and so did he. When asked if he’d be bringing that tradition back, Ranieri again joked that, perhaps he’ll have to come up with a better meal.
“What will I offer to the players in the event of games (with a clean sheet)? Ranieri said. “The pizza is not enough, maybe it’s better to go to McDonald’s.”
Clean sheets will be of utmost importance to Fulham, which has only recorded one in an official (non-friendly) match this season, a 2-0 win over Exeter City in the League Cup in August.
In response to shoring up his team’s leaky defense, Ranieri said thus: “Play football, play well, but when you lose the ball I want to see you with an anchor, like pirates.”
It looks like it will be a fun ride for Fulham. We’ll see if Ranieri can turn things around, or if Fulham are doomed to head straight back down to the Championship.