Claudio Ranieri demanded 100% commitment from his players as he was formally unveiled as the new coach on Sampdoria alongside club president Massimo Ferrero on Tuesday.
“We have to show our desire to fight and stay in Serie A TIM,” said Ranieri. “I’m not here to develop young players or get the older heads back to their best: I’m here to save Sampdoria.”
The Italian coach spoke warmly of his bond with Sampdoria coach, despite his allegiances to Roma.
“Everyone knows that I’m a Roma fan, but I’ve always been fond of Sampdoria,” he said. “I was happy after the Scudetto win and disappointed after Wembley – I was there. Sampdoria has always been a club I’ve liked and I’m honoured to be here.”
Ranieri has coached at some of the biggest clubs in Europe, but he will forever be remembered for leading Leicester City to the Premier League title a few seasons ago – a feat not unlike Sampdoria’s own title triumph in 1991.
“Fairy tales are the result of hard work,” said Ranieri. “When you have a club, a coach and a group of players capable of making the fans dream, that’s how fairy tales begin. I think it’s always important to dream, but first let’s take a step back. I’ve been brought in with the team in last position, but I know that’s not the true level of the side. We must give 100% on the pitch.”
Destiny has decided that Ranieri’s first match will be against Roma – the team he coached at the back end of last season.
“Playing against Roma on my birthday is a nice twist of fate,” said Ranieri. “Obviously I will put my allegiances to Roma to one side when it comes to the match. May the best team win.”
Ranieri went on to admit that he wasn’t expecting the chance to get back into the game so quickly.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a call so soon – I even had a knee operation,” he said. “The call was the best medicine and now I’m here, ready to get going again. When a team is last, it loses confidence and belief. I need to give the players back that confidence and determination – I want them to never give up. I know there are three possible results in football, but I don’t want anyone to beat us in terms of willingness to fight and work hard for our team-mates. Those are the only circumstances in which defeat is acceptable.”
Ranieri reiterated his desire to see maximum effort and commitment for the squad as he looks to turn around a tricky situation for Doria.
“I will pick 11 payers who want to battle – we’ll see about the system and the formation after that,” he said. “I want players who will fight to the death for their team-mates and to make the fans proud of them. We need to create a bond between the fans, myself and the team so that we can be as one and save Sampdoria.”
(Photo Getty Images)