Claudio Ranieri has pledged his support to Roma ahead of their Europa Conference League semi-final against Leicester City.
The Italian coach famously upset the odds and won the Premier League with the Foxes during his time in England, etching his and Leicester’s names forever into football history books. He has also coached Roma on two different occasions and started his playing career with the club.
Speaking to Corriere dello Sport, Ranieri first revealed which team he’ll be rooting for in Roma’s semi-final against Leicester.
“That goes without saying. Roma is the team I’ve supported since I was a kid. Leicester is linked to a great professional achievement and is always in my thoughts.”
He gave his thoughts on Jose Mourinho’s work in the Italian capital this season.
“José knows how to get the players he is relying on to perform at their best. He can get them on his side, like the fans. Thursday night was an emotional spectacle. Thanks to him we had that crowd.
“He manages to bring the team together, believing in the players who suit him, those who are suited to his football. Then there are trequartistas who are interchangeable. The results are on his side. You can see that the team has confidence, with quality it surprises the opponents.”
Ranieri discussed Nicolo Zaniolo, whose future is currently shrouded in doubt as the club are torn between selling him and renewing his contract.
“He’s a decisive player, we saw that against Bodo. He’s a striker who has to find the ball in space, he has impressive quality and strength, even if sometimes he could pass it a bit more when he’s on the edge of the area.
“But when he has the goal in front of him it’s difficult for him to make mistakes. Zaniolo is what we saw on Thursday night. Mourinho knows how to manage him, with what he’s been through he can’t play all the time. It’s important that the boy feels the trust of everyone.”
The Italian coach spoke about Lorenzo Pellegrini.
“He’s a worthy captain, an exquisite player with great quality. He’s a great guy, an exceptional man, loyal. I’m also happy for Cristante.
“He’s a player who’s considered a wingman that every coach would like to have. He’s a cornerstone in any team.”
He discussed Tammy Abraham and confirmed that he didn’t meet the Englishman during his time in the Premier League.
“No, but the numbers speak for themselves and he still has plenty of room for improvement. It is important for a centre forward to be in the right place at the right time and he is always there.
“Mourinho has created a group with young and experienced players. He launched many youngsters from the Primavera. With him Zalewski became a starter.
“Working with young people is very important. José did a great job in believing in this youngster, in transforming his role, he saw the future.”
He didn’t think that Roma should look to fight for 4th in the league table.
“They should give up on Juve, I don’t think they have that weakness in their DNA. It’s important that Roma continue like this, they can win the Conference League and enter the Europa League through the league.”
Ranieri underlined that the Roma fans could make a difference in the match against Leicester.
“Roma’s fans can give a big boost, it’s a good thing we’re playing the return leg at the Olimpico.
“But the first game will also be important, even in England the fans are very supportive of the team, if Roma manage not to play them, maybe the public will remain more calm. Leicester are a team that runs and have good quality.”
Finally, Ranieri discussed the departures of Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti from the Roma environment.
“Daniele has chosen the path of a coach and he needs to stay away from Roma to gain experience and then maybe come back. I read that Francesco wants to make himself useful, but he can only do that if they let him do what he knows how to do. He knows his football well.”
#Ranieri: "Il ritorno all'Olimpico può favorire la #Roma. Grazie a #Mourinho giovedì c'è stata quella cornice di pubblico" #ASRoma #LeiRoma #LeicesterRoma #RomaLei #RomaLeicester #UECL #ConferenceLeague #CorrieredelloSporthttps://t.co/EtgMHlKR3t
— Pagineromaniste.com (@PagineRomaniste) April 16, 2022