Wednesday 18 September 2013
Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.
Claudio Ranieri took over as head coach of Chelsea three days after the exit of fellow Italian Gianluca Vialli from his post at Stamford Bridge.
"I remember about two years ago Valencia played Barcelona three times in one week and each time they won. I had his CV on file once he left in March"
Ranieri had yet to manage in the Barclays Premier League and knew only basic English but was alerted to the club's hierarchy by his achievements at Valencia, where he had won the Copa Del Rey and guided the Spanish Liga club into the UEFA Champions League.
"Claudio is someone I've been aware of for quite some time," said Colin Hutchinson, the Chelsea managing director. "He came to my attention when he was at Valencia where he built the team that got to the Champions League but made what, in hindsight, was a bad move to Atletico Madrid.
"I remember about two years ago Valencia played Barcelona three times in one week and each time they won. I had his CV on file once he left in March."
Ranieri was charged with reducing the average age of the side and resolved to change its spine, integrating players into the first team who had not previously been favoured by Vialli. John Terry, Mario Melchiot and Carlo Cudicini were all promoted in what proved to be a transitional first season for the Londoners, who qualified for the UEFA Cup after a sixth-place finish, while Ranieri’s tendency to alter formations and rotate players earned him the nickname "The Tinkerman".
Frank Lampard, William Gallas and Jesper Gronkjaer all joined the next summer as Chelsea again finished sixth and reached the FA Cup Final, which they lost 2-0 to Arsenal. In the 2002/03 season, however, Ranieri's Blues finished fourth thanks to a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Liverpool on the final day of the season, which was followed by Roman Abramovich decision to buy the club.
The Russian oligarch's arrival enabled Ranieri to invest heavily in players in the summer of 2003. Damien Duff, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Juan Veron, Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele and Adrian Mutu were among the stars to join and Chelsea finished runners-up to Arsenal, their highest league placing for 49 years. They also reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, where they lost to Monaco.
Ranieri was relieved of his duties in May 2004 after four seasons in which Chelsea improved their points tally season on season. He was in charge for 146 Barclays Premier League matches, which produced 76 victories, 37 draws, 33 defeats and a win percentage of 52%. He was replaced by Jose Mourinho.