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Is Claudio Ranieri on the brink?

Claudio Ranieri came into a club on the road to ruin. They had started the season disastrously under a manager appointed, when no fans wanted him, and then sacked, when many fans insisted he ought to be given a proper chance. Since Jose Mourinho even Rafael Benitez had come, tried, and failed. The players were exhausted, probably in part by Jose Mourinho’s fitness regime (which focused on short term fitness, for one season) the year before, and the players were disillusioned. Many had been denied moves to other clubs, for example Maicon to Real Madrid and Wesley Sneijder to Manchester United, whilst players who weren’t sure if they wanted to move, like Samuel Etoo, were pushed out of the door to Russia for big bucks. Then Leonardo came, Wesley Sneijder was again denied his move to Manchester United by last minute stumbling blocks and, to top it all off, the local city rivals, AC Milan, won the league title, Serie A champions for the first time in several years. The treble was the pinnacle, and what a great pinnacle it was, but, after that, the only way was down and it has been a long fall since.

But Claudio Ranieri turned things round, at least at the start. He took a team from the bottom half of the table, close to the relegation zone, a million miles away from league leaders AC Milan and put them back at the right end of the table, within 5 points of the league leaders, and having secured a league derby victory against AC Milan. Claudio Ranieri, just as at the start at AS Roma, Chelsea and Juventus, was a hero. But just like as at all those clubs, slowly, but surely, things started turning against him. A manager who makes an immediate impact and gets the club moving in the right direction until, until, until. Things just seem to turn against him.

At Internazionale Milan the thing that seems to have turned against Claudio Ranieri has been the return from injury of Wesley Sneijder – without him the team had won 7 successive Serie A matches and qualified for the next stage of the Champions League – and the sale of Thiaggo Motta to newly monied Paris Saint German of France. When Thiaggo Motta left, and Wesley Sneijder returned, the great run, the good form, the confidence, evaporated. Internazionale Milan drew 4-4 at home, lost to Novara at home and then again, at home, to Bologna 3-0, and have been stumbling ever since. The Italian media and Serie A analysts suggest Claudio Ranieri is on the brink and if the team exits the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Marseille then Claudio Ranieri will probably be looking for another position.

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