LNTUP

Claudio Ranieri’s first interview as FC Nantes manager

Photo: FC Nantes
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On Monday, Claudio Ranieri was officially unveiled as the manager of Ligue 1 side FC Nantes, four months after being sacked by Leicester City and nine months after leading them to a fairy-tale Premier League title.

Things have changed since then. Craig Shakespeare, his assistant at Leicester has done a commendable job and was duly rewarded with a full-time contract. Ranieri however, prefers to keep the past in the past.

“I have missed being out on the pitch. But we must forget what I did at Leicester. What we achieved there was unique. It is not the same here,”

To start off, FC Nantes are a descent club, having won 8 titles, the last of which came in 2001. The club can boast of producing remarkable French talents in the past -produced players such as Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Mickaël Landreau, Claude Makélélé, Christian Karembeu and Jérémy Toulalan, were all youth products of the club.

Last season, Nantes were being managed by Sérgio Conceição, who took over from René Girard after he was sacked in December. Back then, Nantes were languishing in the 19th place in the league.

Come mid-May and Les Canaries finished the season with a seventh-place finish and a remarkable 51 points to match that up. Conceição though would leave after the season-end, when his native powerhouse FC Porto came calling for his service. Ranieri knows the task in hand and doesn’t forget to express his gratitude:

“To go from 19th place to seventh is fantastic. Sérgio Conceição did a great job with the players. I want to continue in that direction.”
“Nantes have already won eight titles and I am very honoured to be here.”

Did the sacking at Leicester hurt him? Ranieri prefers a polished yet an emotional answer.

“No. What I experienced there was fantastic. The love the people of Leicester showed towards me was incredible. Even more than winning the Premier League.”

He further continues:

“The motivation is still strong. If I continue to work as a coach, it is because my passion and love for football, for the players, is still there.”

“We are going to work very hard. I hope the supporters will be happy with them. Words are fine but the most important thing is what happens on the pitch.”

The Tinkerman, as he is so often called, didn’t forget to show his jolly side, joking:

“I am very nervous when I am at home with my wife, I prefer to be here,”

Whether Ranieri can script another fairy-tale, remains to be seen but he must start his preparations soon, for his first match is against Marcelo Biesla’s Lille.