They called him the “tinkerman” during his time at Chelsea for his knack of rotating his starting XI on a moments notice. Like Rafa Benitez at Liverpool, Claudio Ranieri was criticised for the way he managed Chelsea during his time at Stamford Bridge; but like Benitez, Ranieri found ways to have great success during his time at the club before he departed in 2004.
Ranieri said he’s looking forward to stepping foot on the pitch once more and seeing the Chelsea supporters that gave him so much joy during his time at the club.
The supporters may recall that as Ranieri left, José Mourinho arrived to usher in the most successful period in the club’s history, but yesterday was a time for Ranieri to emphasise the high points of his spell in England, such as the farewell he received at his final match in charge, a 1-0 home win over Leeds United. “The applause of the fans was great,” he said. “It was a memory that will stay with me all my life. The feeling is good at the moment. I hope I will have a good welcome. Even when the draw was made, I felt good about it. One doesn’t forget four years.” (The Times Online)
Ranieri was a special manager during his time at Chelsea. Whilst he wasn’t always loved from the start, he was credited with cultivating some of the biggest names at the club — most especially, John Terry and Frank Lampard. His eye for talent was unquestioned during his tenure with the club. I’m sure Chelsea supporters are going to give him a rousing reception when he steps on the pitch, right?