'Fixer' Ranieri answers crisis call from Inter

New coach starts work with 'squad of champions' at a low ebb but the 'Tinkerman' is looking up the table

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The Independent Football

Claudio Ranieri yesterday declared he had taken over "a squad of champions" with his appointment at Internazionale.

Should they live up to this boast his new charges would fill a surprising, even embarrassing gap in the CV of the much-travelled coach.

'The Tinkerman', as the 59-year-old Roman was known in his time at Stamford Bridge, has already coached two of Italy's biggest clubs in Juventus and Roma, he also managed Roman Abramovich's Chelsea and Valencia either side of their La Liga triumphs in 2002 and 2004. Yet despite several top three finishes he has never won a league title himself, excluding Serie B with Fiorentina in 1994.

He remains, nevertheless, one of the coaches most likely to be called by a club president in need of a experienced hand. "Everyone has their own image, mine is obviously fixer," he said. "I'm happy to be here even though it was a surprise."

Ranieri's previous job was as coach of his hometown club. Appointed in September 2009 with the team struggling he took them into second place by the end of the season behind an Inter team then managed by Jose Mourinho – the man who replaced Ranieri at Chelsea. He struggled to match the heightened expectations the following season and was fired in February of this year.

If that seems harsh it is par for the course in Serie A. Ranieri owe his latest opportunity to the quickfire dismissal of Gian Piero Gasparini who lasted only five matches at Inter having been appointed in the summer.

He was himself the third man who had attempted to fill Mourinho's shoes, Rafael Benitez and Leonardo having been sacked last season after Mourinho followed his treble-winning season by decamping to Real Madrid.

Gasparini was the third coach sacked in Serie A this season after Roberto Donadoni at Cagliari (without a ball being kicked) and Stefano Pioli at Palermo.

Inter are regarded as an old team. The captain, Javier Zanetti is 38 and most of their key players are in their thirties. Ranieri, however, said: "I don't think Inter's players are worn out or finished.

"There have been injuries and bad luck but now we need to restore confidence by taking points.

"I want to see the Inter that I confronted when I was Roma coach," Ranieri added. "A year-and-a-half ago these boys were champions and I believe in their ability to come back from adversity.

"We've tripped up but now we need to get up and fight from the first to the last. I want to see that never-say-die, tight-knit group again. We need to win because the players are used to it. It's now up to us to get back among the pack. We are low in the table but the others are not too many points away."

Inter have one point from three league games but are only one point behind Milan and Roma. However, Juventus are joint-leaders with seven points.

Ranieri's first match is against Bologna this afternoon. For this he will be without Wesley Sneijder whose apparent disaffection after a summer expecting to move to manchester is one problem Ranieri has to deal with.

On Tuesday Inter face a tricky match in Russia against CSKA Moscow. Having lost their first match at home to Trabzonspor Ranieri needs to use all his experience to fix matters quickly.

Tinkerman's Travels

In a 24-year career, spanning 11 clubs in three countries, Claudio Ranieri has won surprisingly few honours.

*1987-1988 Campania Puteolana

*1988-1991 Cagliari (promotion Serie C, Serie B)

*1991-1993 Napoli

*1993-1997 Fiorentina (champions, Serie B; Italian Cup)

*1997-1999 Valencia (King's Cup)

*1999-2000 Atletico Madrid

*2000-2004 Chelsea

*2004-2005 Valencia (Uefa Super Cup)

*2007 Parma

*2007-2009 Juventus

*2009-2011 Roma

*2011 Internazionale