Football: Ravanelli rocks the boat

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The Independent Online
Fabrizio Ravanelli has accused Premiership clubs of having inadequate training facilities and substandard coaching methods.

Middlesbrough's expensive Italian import has taken a swipe at English football in general and his own club in particular, claiming he has to train alone, using charts supplied by Juventus.

Ravanelli said: "Here there is a different culture and a different mentality. The English have tons of money but they lack the organisation of Italian soccer."

His remarks on an Italian TV sports show are certain to enrage his manager Bryan Robson, who is anxious to maintain dressing-room harmony after 12 League matches without a win.

The 28-year-old Italian international, signed for pounds 7m in the summer, said: "The training facilities are not adequate. The stadiums are nice but the rest is just not there.

"For example, there are no gyms and you don't practice very much. I am forced to train by myself, using charts that the Juve trainer faxes to me. English players have a natural gift for running but as for explosiveness and reaction time they can't match the Italians. In soccer you have to do more than run."

Ravanelli, the Premiership's top earner on a reported pounds 42,000 a week, has scored 16 goals so far after marking his debut with a hat-trick against Liverpool. But he is now clearly unhappy at being dragged into the relegation quicksand after a bright beginning.

The White Feather has been linked with Manchester United and he admits: "I want to win again. We are in a difficult situation and one I did not expect. Before signing with Middlesbrough, promises were made to me and they have not been kept.

"Now we have to regroup and I have to bring the mentality I learned at Juve. We have to find a way out of this situation."

No one at Middlesbrough was available yesterday to comment on Ravanelli's remarks.

The Barcelona coach Bobby Robson has said Middlesbrough had increased their offer for the Spanish international defender Miguel Angel Nadal. "They've offered a lot of money for Nadal, but I don't know if Barcelona will accept the offer, or if it interests Nadal," the former England manager said.