Claudio Ranieri: The Tinkerman Calls It Quits on a Legendary Career

It was announced before Cagliari’s final game of the season that it would be Claudio Ranieri last on the touchline in football. His last game in football was Cagliari’s home defeat to Fiorentina which ended in controversial circumstances. 2-2 in stoppage time, Fiorentina past the allotted time allocated in additional time was awarded a very soft penalty via VAR.


Alessandro Prontera was the referee in question and the penalty was given, Arthur stepped up and slotted the penalty to make it 3-2 Fiorentina and guaranteed La Viola European football for next season. What was strange was that Prontera said that he would allocate a couple more minutes past the allotted time, but the penalty was given close to the 100th minute and the final whistle was blown straight after the penalty was converted. 


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So Ranieri’s final game ended in defeat, only the departed Nahitan Nandez was upset at the referee who headed straight down the tunnel after the final whistle making no eye contact with the players and looking very sheepish. But Cagliari were already safe after a fantastic win away at Sassuolo the previous weekend where Cagliari dominated the game and deserved to win.


Having edged the Neroverdi 2-0 via late goals from Matteo Prati and Gianluca Lapadula, this victory sent Sassuolo down that weekend. Frosinone would be the third team relegated after Empoli’s dramatic late win over Roma thanks to a late goal from Mbaye Niang and Udinese winning 1-0 away at Frosinone in a relegation six-pointer. 


Born in Rome, he got to play for his boyhood club and later in his career, he got to coach his boyhood club Roma in two different occasions in 2009 and in 2019. His career was spread over twelve years playing as a defender for Roma, Catanzaro where he played most of his career before playing for Catania and Palermo, playing over 360 times in the process. 


He started his coaching career in 1986 where he coached both Vigor Lamezia and Puteloana. In 1988, he started his tenure with the club he ended his tenure at with Cagliari. He took the Sardinian side from Serie C to the top-flight of Serie A in successive seasons, and Ranieri also won the Serie C Coppa Italia there.


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Then a move to Napoli came in 1991, where he stayed until he was sacked in his second season after a disappointing exit in the UEFA Cup. Remember, this is not the Napoli from the previous couple of seasons. This was a club in financial turmoil and had to deal with the off-the-field problems of the star man Diego Armando Maradona who at that time was going through a drug ban and left the club in 1991 and going to Spain to join Sevilla in 1992. 


Fiorentina was the next destination and got Fiorentina promoted to Serie A after winning the Serie B title in the 1993-94 season and got the Viola back to the top-flight. With Gabriel Batistuta and Rui Costa in his ranks, Claudio Ranieri got Fiorentina winning domestic trophies, the Coppa Italia, and the Italian Super Cup in 1996.


His final season in Florence ended in disappointment with a ninth-place finish and losing to Barcelona in the semi-final of the 1996-97 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 3-1 on aggregate. The first leg ended 1-1 in Spain, Miguel Angel Nadal with the goal for Barcelona, with Gabriel Batistuta scoring the equaliser.


In the return leg in Florence, Barcelona won 2-0 thanks to goals from Fernando Couto and the current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Barcelona won the final 1-0 against Paris Saint-Germain in Rotterdam thanks to a goal from Ronaldo. For the next three years, Claudio Ranieri would venture out of Italy and go coach in Spain with success at one club and misery at the next club.


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From September 1997 to June 1999 he would do well at Valencia. Ranieri would come in after Jorge Valdano was sacked after starting the season poorly with three defeats in a row. This is where Ranieri comes in and takes Valencia to ninth position in the La Liga standings with fifty-five points from thirty-eight games, four points behind Real Betis in eighth who got the last UEFA Cup spot.


Finishing ninth meant for the following season Valencia would be playing in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. In Ranieri’s second and last season at Valencia in his first stint, he won two trophies. The Copa del Rey against Atletico Madrid 3-0, Claudio Lopez and Gaizka Mendieta with the goals. In the semi-final, Valencia dismantled Real Madrid 7-2 on aggregate, winning the first leg 6-0. Barcelona was defeated in the quarter-finals. 


In the Intertoto Cup, Valencia were one of three clubs who won the tournament, Bologna, and Werder Bremen. Shinnik Yaroslavl, Espanyol and Austria Salzburg were all defeated. Winning the Intertoto Cup meant advancing to the UEFA Cup. Valencia would get knocked out in the second round by Liverpool on away goals.


In the league, Valencia finished fourth by a point ahead of Celta Vigo and qualified for the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. Claudio Ranieri left on a high with two trophies and UCL football for Valencia for the next coach who was Hector Cuper. Ranieri would then go to the Spanish capital to coach Atletico Madrid under the controversial president Jesus Gil.


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The Italian would be one of three coaches this season in 1999-2000 where Atletico Madrid would be relegated second-bottom along with Sevilla who finished bottom and Real Betis who finished third bottom. Looking back now almost twenty-four years later, it is quite bonkers on three clubs who have won domestic trophies and European competitions in Sevilla were relegated to the Segunda Division that season.


This was an Atletico Madrid side who had Juan Carlos Valeron, Ruben Baraja and top goal scorer Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the squad. Hasselbaink and Ranieri would reunited in London in the not-so-distant future. Ranieri’s second longest stint in charge of a club was next; after Fiorentina for over 1460 days in charge was the time in London at Stamford Bridge, ending in 2004 in the first year of Roman Abramovich’s tenure at the club.


Replacing the popular Gianluca Vialli on the 18th of September 2000 after a 2-0 home defeat to Leicester City, Ranieri Chelsea would then get knocked out of Europe after losing to Swiss side St. Gallen in the first round of the UEFA Cup. Ranieri would be reunited with two favourite players from his past in Gianfranco Zola who he had at Napoli and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who he coached in Spain at Atletico Madrid.


Chelsea would finish sixth that season and would get into the UEFA Cup. He would finish sixth the next season and get runners-up in the FA Cup losing to Arsenal 2-0 at Cardiff. In the third season, Chelsea finished fourth which meant they qualified for the Champions League. 11th May 2003 will go down in Chelsea folklore with a 2-1 home win over Liverpool in a winner-takes-all all. Marcel Desailly and Jesper Gronkjaer with the goals.


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Sami Hyypia opened the scoring for Liverpool, whilst Liverpool had Steven Gerrard sent off. With this Chelsea got UCL football when qualifying for the fourth round and Roman Abramovich brought the club in the summer. Ranieri’s fourth and final season, could have been a massive what if. A war chest of money was spent on players like Juan Sebastion Veron, Joe Cole, Scott Parker, Glen Johnson, Claude Makelele, Wayne Bridge, Adrian Mutu, Damien Duff, Hernan Crespo etc.


Chelsea would finish second behind the Invincibles Arsenal. But they did get the last laugh knocking Arsenal out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals stage with a late Wayne Bridge goal in the second leg at Highbury. Only to be defeated by AS Monaco in the semi-final 5-3 on aggregate. AS Monaco would lose to Jose Mourinho Porto 3-0 in the final in Gelsenkirchen. Ranieri was sacked on 31st May 2004 and was replaced by Jose Mourinho. 


Claudio Ranieri went back to Valencia, and they say never go back and he was sacked in February 2005 after a defeat in the UEFA Cup to Romanian side Steaua Bucharest over the two legs. Valencia won the first leg 2-0 and lost the second leg 4-3 in Romania. Ranieri was sacked with Valencia in sixth, the Italian replaced Rafa Benitez who had great success at Valencia winning two league titles and the UEFA Cup the prior season. Ranieri did win the European Super Cup in August of 2004 defeating Porto in Monaco 2-1 thanks to goals from Ruben Baraja and Marco Di Vaio. 


An SOS call was sent to Claudio Ranieri in February 2007 with Parma struggling in Serie A and the possibility of relegation to Serie B. Ranieri took the call and replaced Stefano Pioli, a Parma side that had won just three games all season all at home to Ascoli, Atalanta and Torino. After a winless start to his reign with four draws from his opening five games, Ranieri would win seven out of the final eleven games of the season to finish comfortably in twelfth position in the Serie A standings with forty-two points from thirty-eight games.


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A young Giuseppe Rossi flourished in a loan spell with nine goals in nineteen games, a return to Parma for Rossi who left in 2000 to join Manchester United.  That fine form at the back end of the previous season got him the job on a three-year deal at the old lady of Juventus. Disgraced the previous summer caught up the Calciopoli scandal that rocked Italian football in the summer of 2006, Juventus were relegated to Serie B. They won the league in the 2005/06 season with Didier Deschamps at the helm, but the Frenchman would leave before the end of the season.


Ranieri’s first season in charge had Juventus finish in third ten points behind AS Roma and a further three points behind Inter who won the league on the final day of the season in the rain in Parma after Roma dropped points away at Catania. Roma lost the league weeks before after a draw at home to Livorno. But for Juventus, a return back to Serie A and a return back to the UCL even though it would go through the qualifying stages of the third round. 


The second season in Turin would be his last as he was sacked before the season was out, Juventus would finish second behind Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan side. But a run of one win in seven games at the end of the season curtailed Juventus’ season and cost Claudio Ranieri his job. One defeat in Genoa and six draws including five in a row meant that Ranieri was sacked and Ciro Ferrara was brought in.


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Ferrara would win the final two games of the season and got the job permanently the next season. Juventus did return to the Champions League and got to the round of sixteen losing to Chelsea 3-2 on aggregate. In the group stage, Juventus did manage to do the double over Real Madrid and Alessandro Del Piero had a wonderful game with two goals in the return leg in Spain.


For the 09/10 season, Raneri got a call to replace Luciano Spalletti at Roma after Spalletti was sacked after losing the first two games of the season to Genoa and Juventus. This was the nearly season for him and for Roma, a season I look back fondly and think what could have been. Roma lost in the final of the Coppa Italia to Inter Milan thanks to a Diego Milito goal. Francesco Totti was sent off for lashing out at Mario Balotelli.


Roma would lose the league on the final day again to Inter Milan just like two years previous under Spalletti this time under Ranieri. In late March, Roma defeated Inter at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to goals from now-Roma coach Daniele De Rossi and on-loan striker Luca Toni from Bayern Munich. Just a few weeks later, Roma defeated Lazio in the Derby Della Capitale. Mirko Vucinic was the hero that day with two second-half goals.


At halftime with Roma trailing, Ranieri took off both influential Romans in Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti as the game was too much for them. The dream died a week later with a home defeat to Sampdoria thanks to goals from Gianluca Pazzini, whilst Phillipe Mexes was left crying on the substitute bench.


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The next season he was fired in February 2011 with Roma struggling in Serie A and in Europe, knocked out of the Champions League by Shakhtar Donetsk and lost four in a row in all competitions. The final nail in the coffin was a 4-3 defeat to Genoa where Roma was 3-0 up and lost the game thanks to an eighty-sixth minute Genoa winner from Alberto Paloschi. 


Inter Milan came calling at the beginning of the 2011/12 season after Gian Piero Gasperini was fired after the opening three rounds of the season, Gasperini now flourishing at Atalanta. But Ranieri departed in March 2012 after a 2-0 away defeat at Juventus who were on their way to winning the league under Antonio Conte that season. Poor form cost Ranieri his job at Inter at the early stages of 2012, with defeats to AS Roma, Bologna, Novara, and Marseille in Europe in succession. 


In May of 2012, the Italian coach went to AS Monaco who was languishing in league two in France. AS Monaco were crowned league champions of the second division of France and went up that season with Guingamp and Nantes. AS Monaco finished top with seventy-six points from thirty-eight games. Ibrahima Toure was the top scorer for AS Monaco that season with sixteen league two goals.


The following season, AS Monaco under Dmitry Rybolovlev money spent big just to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain. An ample amount of money was spent on James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho, Fabinho, Jeremy Toulalan. AS Monaco would finish second just nine points behind Paris Saint-Germain and returned to the Champions League, but that was not enough for Claudio Ranieri has his contract was not renewed and he was replaced by Leonardo Jardim. 


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The disaster with Greece National Team job followed and he was only in charge for four games, losing three and was relieved of his duties in November 2014 after an embarrassing home loss to the Faroe Islands. Leicester City, who had narrowly stayed up with Nigel Pearson the previous season and had a wonderful end to the campaign in 2014-15, was replaced by Claudio Ranieri and some Leicester fans and a Match of the Day presenter was not impressed.


But Leicester City had the season of their lives by winning the Premier League. Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Danny Drinkwater, N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were the backbone of the squad and a simple 4-4-2 tactic with Danny Drinkwater playing long balls over the top to the on-running Jamie Vardy and it worked. I saw Leicester away at Swansea in December 2015 and Leicester tore them apart with Mahrez scoring a hat-trick. But the best player that day was N Golo Kante who ran the midfield. 


Unfortunately for Claudio Ranieri, he was sacked in February of 2017 after a poor run of form and replaced by Craig Shakespeare, a loss away at Swansea City the fifth in a row in the league was the final straw. A year in France followed with Nantes before a return to England with Fulham which only lasted a few months after eleven defeats in seventeen games and his tenure with Fulham ended in February 2019. 


AS Roma came calling again after a disastrous few weeks by losing the derby to Lazio, getting knocked out of the Champions League by Porto, which cost Monchi and Eusebio Di Francesco their jobs. Claudio Ranieri came in and steadied the ship and got Roma to finish sixth with a final day of the season win over Parma. A lovely banner in the Curva Sud read “Mr Ranieri in the moment of need you answered present, now you receive the tribute of your people.”


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The next season he came in once again after Eusebio Di Francesco was fired at Sampdoria, did a rebuilding job and finished fifteenth in the curtailed COVID-19 season. His second and final season with Sampdoria, the club finished ninth and finished ten points behind Sassuolo who battling out with AS Roma for the final European spot. A spell at Watford in 2021 didn’t end well with Ranieri being sacked after a hundred and twelve days with eleven defeats in fourteen. 


His final job was back at Cagliari a club where he left in 1991 to join Napoli, Cagliari were in Serie B and Ranieri replaced the departing Fabio Liverani who was sacked before Christmas 2022. Ranieri came in and got Cagliari into the playoffs by finishing fifth in the league. They defeated Parma 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals after winning 3-2 at home and drawing 0-0 in Parma. Bari was the other finalist. The first leg in Sardinia ended 1-1, whilst the second leg was won with Leonardo Pavoletti scoring a dramatic ninety-fourth minute winner. 


In Serie A, Cagliari got survival in the second to last game of the season away at Sassuolo. But at the start of the season, they struggled and it took them to matchday ten to pick up their first win of the season. In the opening nine games of the season, Cagliari under Ranieri only picked up just two points.


The dramatic 4-3 come-from-behind win over Frosinone was the turning point of the season. Frosinone were 3-0 up fifty minutes. And was winning the game as it went into stoppage time thanks to two late goals from Leonardo Pavoletti. There were a lot of difficulties this season for Cagliari under Ranieri this season and he got important results at the right times of the season, with Empoli and Salernitana in back-to-back wins in March and a home win over Atalanta who were flying in April.


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Back-to-back draws away at Inter Milan and Juventus meant that Cagliari were inching away to safety, and their win over Sassuolo on matchday thirty-seven signified another season in Serie A for Cagliari after the promotion. It was the perfect send-off for the gentleman of football and he will be missed, Ranieri has come into clubs and transformed them. For me personally, as a Roma fan, I will never forget what he did in 2009 and for what he did in 2019. Leicester fans will never forget that season in 2015/16 as they did the impossible and won the Premier League. 


Grazie Claudio Ranieri.


By: Scot Munroe / @scot_munroe

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Getty Images