Ranieri: ‘I think about football 25 hours a day’


Cagliari coach Claudio Ranieri says he thinks about football 25 hours a day and has no plans to stop coaching any time soon. The Serie A veteran spoke with La Gazzetta dello Sport about the Sardinians, the players he bought into the club this summer and why formations matter less and less in football:

In October you will be 72.

“The training keeps me alive, it gives me joys and also pains. There’s the desire to be at Cagliari and I’ve never had the desire to stop”.

This Cagliari has resurrected you, you have earned a kind of immunity in the city, but now you must try to save it. You have coined a term ‘le libecciate’…..

“The past I have already put behind me, I always look ahead. Saving ourselves will be very hard. And with that term ‘le libecciate’ that I invented when I came back here, I mean that we must all stand together when there is a storm. Because libecades are dangerous. I may be respected, but I’ve always said that I can’t do it alone. Serie A is Sardinia’s heritage, we all have to help Cagliari.

Do you speak often with Gigi Riva?

“When he wants to, I don’t really bother him.

What kind of relationship do you have with president Tommaso Giulini? Since relegation he has not spoken out.

“Excellent. We speak to each other often. Relegation is shocking. He put in a lot of money into the club, he may have made mistakes, but footballers are not machines and it can also happen that they make mistakes.”

On the transfer market there was your strong decision-making.

“I try to work out who is right for me. The president and the SD Nereo Bonato submit names to me and I look at them’.

An English-style manager.

“No, a coach on the field. It’s always been like that, Abramovich proposed it to me, I never wanted to do it’.

In the meantime, you have signed 10 players here to the national team.

“Credit to them. They took advantage of the opportunity’.

You discovered Dossena and Makoumbou. And Luvumbo, who runs and scores.

“Dossena I saw in the game when I was already at Cagliari, but I wasn’t coaching yet. He’s focused, he does the simple things, he has to polish up some mistakes. Makoumbou still has to quicken up, but he can become a great player. It’s up to them. I explained that you have to reset and convert to the big leagues Makoumbou has to quicken, but he can become a great player. I explained that you have to reset and convert to Serie A.”

Angolan Luvumbo, a forward, young, seems to have the numbers to break through. He doesn’t just run, he scores.

“On the left, he’s a hard worker. He has character. Now it’s up to him to hone his qualities’.

Why did you want Petagna, who is coming from a difficult season, to replace the injured Lapadula?

“Because he is a great reference point and it was immediately seen in Bologna. Once he and Nandez were out we couldn’t hold out. He has a great left foot, a great header, he fights on every ball. We’ve spoken to each other, he’ll do very well. So far we’ve made a virtue out of necessity, we’ve been missing Lapadula and Pavoletti. And that’s no small thing.

What kind of Serie A is it now?

“An ‘A’ that plays at a thousand miles per hour. Everyone runs, even the champions. Everyone presses and wants to start at the bottom. I’m not saying it’s not right, but I think about it before I put players on the back foot. If everyone is pressing to steal the ball, if I don’t have City’s players on the ball I don’t start from the bottom.”

You said: “I write the formation as 4-4-2, then everything changes”…. Today it’s strange to write down the formations when you make continuous systematic changes.

“I started with Cagliari in 1990. I used to start 3-5-2 and change to 4-4-2, disorienting the opponents and straightening out certain games. Today the players are more ductile. And they have certain tasks that you don’t know from the outside, for example Lautaro against us made some movements, going backwards, that were extremely intelligent. The winning system is the players’.

How much does Ranieri get out of football in a day?

“Twenty-five hours. Because when I go home, I see, I look, I talk to the staff on the phone. This year we have added two components. When I don’t see I think. I am methodical.

You always train in the morning.

“First at match times. Then in Valencia the goalkeeper Zubizzarreta told me ‘Coach I don’t see the kids, they are at school in the morning’. I decided to change. Herrera also worked in the morning”.

How do you relate at 70 years old with boys of 20?

“I don’t mind their new tendencies. I said I will write to them on Instagram. As a Roman, I make jokes. But I simply relate with common sense and respect.”

What do you read?

“Biographies. I liked Kobe Bryant or the All Blacks captain who cleaned the locker room. Great humility. And then The Lions of Sicily, the story of the Florios’.

Does your grandson Orlando, nine years old, play football?

‘Yes, but without the obsession of becoming a champion. He does skateboarding and football close to home. Healthy sport, that’s the important thing.”

Has you e already chosen where you will live when you stop coaching?

‘I have four places: Rome, London, Calabria and Siena. But I love travelling, being abroad opens the mind’.

You have coached Inter, Juve, Napoli, Roma, never Milan. Out of curiosity, did they ever look for you?

‘Yes after Cagliari, but I chose Napoli.

Milan and Inter Milan started strongly.

“Two teams with great organisation, Loftus Cheek the novelty, if they have the ball between their feet it’s hard to take it away from them. But I don’t exclude Napoli, Lazio and Juve who don’t have the cups and in March, April will count’.

Italy play tomorrow. Is Spalletti the right choice?

“The right man. Fear is good for us. We lack top players, but the team manages to make up for it.”


Serie A obsessive.