Valencia CF coach Claudio Ranieri gained a reputation for tinkering in pursuit of perfection at Chelsea FC, but in a dramatic shift in his managerial policy, he has called an end to his fiddling philosophy ahead of Friday's UEFA Super Cup against FC Porto.
The latest Ranieri blueprint panders more to the phrase 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' as he takes his reigning Spanish champions and UEFA Cup winners into the prestigious play-off against the European champions in Monaco. "We are seeing this match as a war," Ranieri told uefa.com. "The Super Cup is a very important match. Lifting such a prestigious trophy would give us a lot of confidence. We desperately want that first victory."
Intent on setting the right tone as well as raising a few eyebrows, Ranieri is clearly relishing his return to the Mestalla, where he won the Spanish Super Cup during his first spell in charge. Following in the footsteps of Rafael Benítez, now at Liverpool FC, is difficult enough, but Ranieri also has a few points to prove after failing to win a trophy in his three-year spell at Chelsea.
His time at Stamford Bridge taught him a lot about management and Ranieri hinted he may not adopt a rotation policy quite as vigorous as the one which attracted so much criticism in England. "When I was at Chelsea we tried as hard as we could to win prizes but it was very difficult to do that with a team that was so new to one another," he said. "At Valencia it is different. Last year this team won many titles and I believe that they can do it again this season - although it will not be easy.
Crest of a wave
"I don't feel too much pressure taking over from Benítez even though he did do a great job here. His work was excellent and I'm sure he will do the same things at Liverpool that he did with Valencia. The pressure I am under is the same as managers of all the big clubs - we need results. But I am very confident that we have the players to once again beat the likes of Real Madrid [CF] - and also the huge clubs that will face us in the [UEFA] Champions League."
Despite the manner of his departure from Chelsea, where he was replaced by former Porto coach José Mourinho, Ranieri appears not to harbour any grudges. "My experience at Chelsea was wonderful," said the Italian. "But probably the most important experience I gained was having to deal with high expectations every day.
School of science
"There is one thing that is very clear - football is not a science.
If you could buy titles in the supermarket every club would go there. That's not the way it works in this game. Money cannot guarantee success. I've heard that Chelsea's style has been questioned so far this season. I know that they have very good players but they will all want to play every week.
Tipped for the top
"Mourinho must adapt to the English game quickly and find his regular best starting eleven. I'm sure that Chelsea will do well this season and I think they will win the Premiership title in a couple of years' time."
By that time, Ranieri will no doubt hope he has some trophies of his own, the first of which, ironically, could be won tonight against the Porto side which Mourinho built.
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