Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How long will Claudio get?

Claudio Ranieri’s arrival at Juventus after the departure of Didier Deschamps may have surprised many who have been following the disgraced Turin club’s battle for promotion. With Marcello Lippi, Fabio Capello and Gianluca Vialli previously mentioned as candidates, it seemed unlikely that Ranieri would be considered for the top spot in Turin. Sure, he saved Parma from relegation, and before that built a lot of what was to become the Chelsea squad in recent years, but Ranieri can hardly be called a manager with an exceptional pedigree, perhaps merely confident.

Apparently, Deschamps was unhappy with the amount of effort Juve were going to put forth to vie for the Scudetto next year. While AC probably has a better take on this, I think the big shots at the club perhaps thought Didi could be the guy to lead them back to respectability, leaving them the option of retaining him based on how well they do next year. With one more year on his contract, perhaps Deschamps wasn’t keen to continue the pressure surrounding the top job at the club. With Gigi Buffon waffling about his future, a shaky back line and a decimated strike force, Word is that the former French international wanted a larger transfer kitty than Juve were willing to give him, and that’s what spurred him to walk away. Of course, this provided the perfect opportunity for a guy like Ranieri to step in and try his hand at leading arguably the most successful Italian side in one of the most pressurized of situations.

Remember Fabio Capello’s woes earlier this season with Real Madrid? Did fans of los Merengues really think they’d be leading La Liga (on head to head goals v. Barca, no less) entering the penultimate round of the season? Perhaps so, but we were talking not about if Capello would leave, but when just a few months into the campaign. And we’re talking about a guy with a proven pedigree (5 Scudettos, 1 La Liga title and a European Cup trophy, to name just some of his accomplishments). Imagine what it’s going to feel like for him after a loss or two next season.

We’ve all seen guys get destroyed by the management game, and obviously Ranieri’s savvy enough to prepare himself for that. Primarily a specialist at getting teams promoted (spells at Cagliari and Fiorentina) and building squads with newly-discovered talent (Valencia, Chelsea), Juve have nothing to lose by giving the Italian journeyman a shot. But at this point, it’s hard not to look at Ranieri as anything more than a caretaker manager as the Old Lady of Turin test the waters of the top flight, a league they won, albeit illegally, last year.


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