Claudio Ranieri is relishing the “wonderful” chance to make his Sampdoria debut against Roma, but tells players to “fight to the death to ensure their fans are proud.”
For the second time in seven months, Ranieri has replaced Eusebio Di Francesco at a Serie A club, having come in as caretaker manager for Roma in March.
In a twist of fate, his debut for Samp will be against his beloved hometown club this weekend.
“I must thank President Massimo Ferrero for allowing me to work with such a prestigious club,” said Ranieri at this morning’s Press conference.
“I am a Roma supporter, but have always appreciated Samp. I was happy when they won the Scudetto and disappointed during the European Cup Final defeat at Wembley. I respect Di Francesco and hope he finds a new role as soon as possible.
“As for facing Roma on my debut – and my birthday – it’s all wonderful. Naturally, when we step on to that pitch, there is no love, but only professionalism. May the best team win, we will try to give our best.
“I’ll be honest, it was a surprise when I got the call from Sampdoria. I’d had surgery on my knee and wasn’t expecting this to be my medication. I am very happy to represent the Blucerchiati colours.
“I am convinced this squad does not belong at the foot of the Serie A table. When a team is rock bottom, naturally there is a lack of self-esteem, but I want my players not to give up. I am a sportsman, so I know how to accept defeat if the opponent proves he is stronger, but he has to prove it.
“When it comes to sacrificing ourselves for our fellow teammates, we must be second to none. I will choose 11 people who want to get out there and fight for Samp. The tactical system will come from what the lads show me. I’ve used every system over the years, the important thing is that the players fight to the death to ensure their fans are proud of them.
“I am not picking the team, it is the lads who must show me who really wants to save Sampdoria. We need the team, the fans and myself to be as one.”
There are some exceptions, such as last season’s Capocannoniere Fabio Quagliarella.
“He is a player who makes the difference,” continued Ranieri. “He had a magical season, this term has been a little quieter so far, but I expect a lot because he is the symbol of Sampdoria. The goals will come, the important thing is that he fights hard and remains a reference point for his teammates.”
Ranieri was asked if he saw similarities between the call to rescue Sampdoria and last year at Fulham.
“Sampdoria are not Fulham. Don’t forget, Fulham were a newly-promoted club with players who had never been in the Premier League. In the January transfer window, they followed the advice of algorithms. This is totally different. Sampdoria have played good football and are struggling, so now need the desire to fight hard.
“The quality towards the lower half of the table has improved significantly, which adds difficulties to us, but is also a sign that Italian football is returning to the top level.”
Di Francesco had complained that the on-going tug-of-war over ownership of the club made the players and Coach uneasy.
“I am not interested in the club situation, I just want to save the team. If the President of Samp is Massimo Ferrero or someone else is of no interest. From the moment I put on this shirt, I am responsible for what happens on the pitch.”
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