Claudio Ranieri is thrilled to be back in the Premier League as Fulham boss.
Fulham owner Shahid Khan on Wednesday sacked Slavisa Jokanovic and replaced him with the 67-year-old former Chelsea and Leicester boss. This actually is a risk-free appointment.
Ranieri told a media conference on Friday: “I’m very happy to come back to a country of football. For me it’s the best league in the world. I’m very happy Mr Khan called me and now we work together.”
The Cottagers are bottom of the Premier League table with five points from 12 matches, having lost their last seven games in all competitions.
Italian Ranieri, who memorably led Leicester to the title in 2016, has been given a “multi-year” contract and his first match in charge is the November 24 clash with Southampton.
Ranieri, who managed Jokanovic at Chelsea when he was a player, said: “Joka was a fantastic player and also as a manager he made very good things.
“He made fantastic things here in Fulham, but that is our life, the life of the manager or coach, when something goes badly, you have to change.
“It happened to me in Leicester, not only Leicester. It’s normal.”
Fulham were among the Premier League’s highest spenders in the summer following promotion from the Championship.
Owner Shahid Khan spent approximately £100million to bolster their squad with the likes of Jean Michael Seri – previously linked with Barcelona – Andre Schurrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Alfie Mawson.
Ranieri added: “Look, when I watched some matches I said this team has enough quality to be safe. And then this is quality. Now I repeat: I need fighting spirit.
“Quality with fighting spirit we can do a good job. If there is only quality, without organisation, defensive tactics, it’s difficult to help the players to maintain the clean sheet.
“Now for me it’s important to put in the brain of my players this philosophy. Play football, play well, but when you lose the ball I want to see you with an anchor, like pirates.”
Ranieri played down suggestions of a second miracle, while expressing sympathy with the Foxes following the helicopter crash which resulted in the death of five people, including owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
“Forget what happened yesterday,” Ranieri added. “That was a bonus. A fairytale I forget.
“Now it’s important, don’t think about the miracle. It’s important there will be a lot of battles and it’s important to be ready together.
“The club, the players, the fans, together. Together they have to support us in a bad moment. And this is a bad moment, because Fulham is at the bottom.”
Ranieri used the incentive of pizza for Leicester to claim clean sheets.
Asked if he would use the same ploy at Fulham, he added: “I have to promise something more. Pizza is not enough now. Better everybody to McDonald’s.”
Ranieri had a season-long spell with Nantes in Ligue 1 after being sacked by Leicester in February 2017.
He will face two of his former clubs in his first three games, with the December 2 trip to Chelsea followed by the visit of Leicester on December 5.
He said: “I think only of Southampton. In this moment it’s important. Don’t think about other things, Southampton, Southampton. And then after Southampton, Chelsea.”
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