After replacing Gasperini, Ranieri couldn't ask for more from his first game in charge - a dejected bunch of players who suddenly looked confident, determined and committed. Inter's 4th coach in one year began his mission with the same approach that turned out to be highly successful at Parma and Roma, where he had to jump on the train running and had a wonderful and immediate impact in improving the team fortunes.
"There are few things to fix but all very urgent". First of all, self-confidence. "In few training sessions you can't do too much. So I have just reminded everybody that Inter can't become overnight a team of losers. These guys were the core of the winning team who only one year ago conquered Italy, Europe and the World. Players of their level can't forget how to win, they need only to reproduce the form and the situations which enabled them to win in the past". He struck the right chord with the players.
Secondly, the scheme. Contrary to his 'Tinkerman' reputation no extravaganza here. Setting up Bologna's game, Ranieri did the most reasonable thing choosing the easiest scheme and picking the most suitable player for each position. A 4-4-2 formation: ath the back, Nagatomo and Chivu on the flanks, Lucio and Samuel as centrebacks; in midfield, Coutinho and Obi wide with Zanetti and Cambiasso in the middle; Pazzini and Forlan up front. Square, simple and logic. Most of all, effective.
While at Cagliari, Napoli and Fiorentina, Ranieri proved to be one of the most flexible coaches in Italy. Not a visionary but someone with an eye for beautiful football anyway. Everything changed after managing Chelsea, where he realized that for a cosmopolitan team 4-4-2 was a helpful commodity: easy to teach, easier to play. It was in that very moment that Ranieri began appreciating the fact that, unless you have an an extraordinary number 10 in your team, fourfourtwo is the best way to get immediate results and to give balance to any team, as it's so easy to be assimilated.
When he replaced Luciano Spalletti at Roma two seasons ago, the former Chelsea and Juventus manager found an apparently Sunset Boulevard bound team. Ranieri started with a not so inspired 4-4-2, then quickly switched to a revisited version of Spalletti's 4-2-3-1 (but this time slower and more compact). He asked Totti and co. to play a more cautious and less demanding football. Then, the same players who looked frayed and knackered under Spalletti became reliable and consistent. After a stunning run Roma overtook Mourinho's Inter, who had wasted a 9-point lead in two months. And if it wasn't for the unexpected home defeat against Cassano & Pazzini's Sampdoria, Giallorossi would have clinched the Italian title.
Ranieri did far worse the following season when he tried to shape Roma according to his football vision. Maybe this is why Moratti proposed only a one year contract, which was [obviously] rejected by Ranieri: "I feel a one year contract would be very negative for you too, as it would give the impression that you don't believe in me and you don't have any long term strategy. And this will affect my authority as the players' committment". He had a point. And the two year contract he was looking for.
Reverting to the basics it's always a wise approach. And that's exactly what Claudio Ranieri did as soon as he introduced himself to the team. But to compete at the highest level Inter need far more a dose of realism. Turning the clock back to Mancini's and Mourinho's pragmatism, buring all together Benitez, Leonardo and Gasperini's attempts to reshape the former European Champions' way of play, was enough to beat Di Vaio and his team mates. Inter will need more against the likes of CSKA Moscow and Napoli, the next two opponents.
Serie A 2011-12 / Day 5
Bologna: Gillet (70' Agliardi), Casarini, Portanova, Antonsson, Morleo; Perez, Mudingayi, Konè; Ramirez (79' Krhin), Diamanti; Di Vaio (64' Acquafresca). Coach: Bisoli
Inter: Julio Cesar, Nagatomo, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu; Coutinho (56' Jonathan), Zanetti, Cambiasso, Obi (64' Muntari); Pazzini, Forlan (71' Milito). Coach: Ranieri
Goals: 39' Pazzini, 81'pen Milito, 87' Lucio; 66' pen Diamanti
Red card: Morleo (80')
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