Claudio Ranieri broke his silence to blast the Roma players. “I became the only scapegoat, but now they've got to prove themselves. I should've left in June.”
The tactician resigned last Sunday and made way for Vincenzo Montella, hoping a change would shake up his hometown team.
“This term I had become the only scapegoat at Roma. Now the team is there, on their own, and it's up to them to prove themselves. I resigned out of love for Roma and this city,” he told TG1.
“Sadly, this year personal interests prevailed over those of the team. When we talked in the locker room, everyone agreed that we had to rotate the squad. Then as soon as someone was substituted...
“Now that I am no longer there, though, someone still has to go on the bench.”
He was referring to numerous incidents when players were visibly irritated and disrespectful on the touchline, including Francesco Totti, Mirko Vucinic and Marco Borriello.
“What mistakes did I make during my year and a half at Roma? Perhaps not having left in June...?”
However, the Coach rules out suggestions that a group of players were pushing against him and performing badly on purpose.
“I don't believe that. There are players who give 110 per cent with a Coach, then don't ‘click' with another. I think a good Coach should try to make the most of his players' characteristics, but when I was a player, I also pushed to understand what my Coach wanted from me.
“I was not a champion, but my motto during my playing days was ‘never give in.' Players should be lions who have to be held back, but this year I was disappointed that at Roma not everyone had that spirit.”
Ranieri famously kept David Pizarro out because of fitness issues, yet the Chilean played the entire match under new boss Montella.
“We had decided he'd play against Genoa, then that morning the medic told me his back was hurting. I don't want to believe he said that to avoid playing. That would be an issue of professionalism towards the club that pays your wages and the fans.
“No, that would be beyond any issue with the Coach. Pizarro had a terrible season with this chronic knee problem. I cannot accept any suggestion he was unprofessional.”
Ranieri's time in Italy has been somewhat complex, as he was fired by Juventus with two games left in the season and felt pushed out of the Giallorossi.
“In football there is Heaven and there is Hell, each can choose which is which. Compared to England, this is Hell,” the former Chelsea manager told TG1.
“I want to train again. England does fascinate me, but I also like Serie A.”