Sunday 08 October 2017, 10:00

Ranieri: I really admire Conte and Allegri

  • Claudio Ranieri won The Best FIFA Men’s Coach award in 2016

  • Two fellow Italians – Massimiliano Allegri and Antonio Conte – on this year’s three-man shortlist

  • Ranieri talks to about the success enjoyed by Italian coaches

Italian coaches have long had the very best of reputations. The likes of Arrigo Sacchi, Marcello Lippi, Fabio Capello and Giovanni Trapattoni have all made their mark on the game with their philosophies and triumphs. And the list of successful Italian coaches continues to grow every year, as the presence of Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri on the three-man shortlist for The Best FIFA Men’s Coach 2017 – alongside Frenchman Zinedine Zidane – shows.

Another man prominently placed in the pantheon of great Italian coaches is Claudio Ranieri, who has nothing but praise for the two nominees for an award he collected last year: “I admire them. They’re young and talented. They’re full of desire and hungry to manage great players, and they do it with a lot of intelligence.”

As if to prove he has lost none of his own powers, Ranieri is now working his magic at Nantes in Ligue 1.

*Ranieri at Nantes, three stats from his first eight games in charge: 4th - Nantes’ current position in Ligue 1, their best start to a season in 19 years. 2.7 - the number of points Nantes have won per goal scored, the best such ratio in Europe (six goals for, five against, 16 points won). 2 - *Nantes’ position in the ranking of Ligue 1’s best defences.

With The Best FIFA Awards 2017 just around the corner, Ranieri spoke about his triumph last year and the success enjoyed by Italian coaches past and present. You were named The Best FIFA Men’s Coach 2016. What has the award brought you and does it have a special place among your many achievements? Claudio Ranieri: It was an honour to win that award, and it reflected the beautiful story that Leicester City and I enjoyed together. It was a wonderful reward for that magnificent adventure and it has a special place in my heart.

Zinedine Zidane, Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri are the three men in contention for the accolade this year. Who’s going to get it? I can’t pick one out. They’re all excellent coaches. I hope the best one wins because all three are very good. Two of them are Italian and they’re both great characters with a lot of technical qualities. They’ve both shown that they can achieve big things, and their records speak for themselves. Conte has shown what he’s capable of by winning a lot of big trophies, not least at Chelsea, while Allegri has won in Italy, where it’s difficult to come out on top. He’s shown his talent in both the league and the Champions League. All three deserve to win. They’re all talented coaches, as they’ve shown many times.

What is it that you admire about Conte and Allegri? They’re young and talented. They’re full of desire and hungry to manage great players, and they do it with a lot of intelligence. It’s hard to win all the time, but they’ve shown throughout their career what they can do.

There are, as you say, two Italians in the running for the award. Italian coaches have long had an excellent reputation. What do they have that others don’t? I think the Italian school has the edge because it’s tactics-based. You can feel that in the Italian league. That’s what helps you understand how other teams operate. A lot of foreign coaches choose Italy because they know the discipline and the technical skills that it demands. Those are they very reasons why Italian coaches do so well in the various leagues. The Italian championship is the greatest and it’s also the toughest. Whether you’re a player or a coach, there’s an awful lot for you to learn in the Italian league.

Which Italian coach do you think has had the biggest impact on football with their ideas?  If you ask me, football changed with Arrigo Sacchi. He changed mindsets and after him everyone played to win. He had a huge impact on football, especially in Italy. He brought in so many good things, and everyone remembers Sacchi’s Milan. Everyone thinks Italian football is defensive but there’s more to it than that.

Does being Claudio Ranieri, The Best FIFA Men’s Coach 2016, mean you have the instant respect of your players and the opposition too? It’s more a case of respect for experience than my name. I’ve racked up over a thousand matches in different leagues in many countries, and with highs and lows that have helped me gain the respect of the people I’ve worked with. You have to show your qualities every day. It’s by working every day that you gain the respect of everyone, be it the coaching staff, the players or the fans.