'Crazy Man' is lapping up a crazy situation - Premier League - Football - The Independent

'Crazy Man' is lapping up a crazy situation

Chelsea manager bows to Arsenal as his tired men fail to unlock Boro after the glory of Europe

Roman triumphalism can have a habit of coming unstuck, but you sense Claudio Ranieri is rather relishing his moment. It was not so much his team but his own appearance which persuaded the faithful to their feet, hailing the dark-overcoated figure as he emerged to oversee the pre-match warm-up.

Roman triumphalism can have a habit of coming unstuck, but you sense Claudio Ranieri is rather relishing his moment. It was not so much his team but his own appearance which persuaded the faithful to their feet, hailing the dark-overcoated figure as he emerged to oversee the pre-match warm-up.

"There's Crazy Man on the pitch," declared the PA announcer as the man himself responded with a discreet wave. "A welcome back to Claudio Ranieri." The former was a reference to the Italian's response when shown TV pictures of his fist-clenched reaction to Wayne Bridge's winning goal at Highbury. You could read in to the the latter what you liked. Had someone suspected he may not return? It was simply in keeping with a baffling week in Europe which leaves Chelsea with every chance of securing the ultimate prize.

Nothing, though, is quite as bizarre as the situation here. Owner Roman Abramovich must have looked on in bewilderment at a character his chief executive, Peter Kenyon, was quite prepared to sacrifice - assuming Sven Goran Eriksson could have been inveigled away from England - receiving such a rapturous reception. Yet, despite the crowd's acclaim, despite support from fans of other clubs and the website set up to "Save Claudio", there is still no certainty that Ranieri will be in situ come next August.

With reported interest from Real Madrid and his home-city club, Roma, he has reportedly sought confirmation from Chelsea of what they demand from him long-term, if he stays. It appears that the responsibility would involve supervising the first team only, and preparing them for matches, with limited involvement with transfers and young-player development. Kenyon and Ranieri spoke on Thursday, and will do so again in the next 10 days, before the first leg of the Monaco tie. He wants the issue resolved quickly, though you suspect that common ground may be difficult to find.

He stressed after yesterday's game: "I know very well what could happen, but I am not worried about it. If it is enough, OK; if it is not enough, OK. If it is not, I can only say 'thank you' to Mr Abramovich for giving me the possibility. At the end, I say 'thank you, Roman' and I go. But I want to stay, of course."

Ranieri has never sought to protest about the position he has found himself in this season. Now he doesn't attempt to capitalise on what many would regard as a night of vindication for the Chelsea coach. "I know football very well," he had reflected after the Champions' League defeat of Arsenal. "When you change the owner, you also change the coach, the manager. But I have the very good luck to remain here for one year. That is important.

"This goes through my mind: 'Claudio, remember! You can win everything at the end of the year. Then you can receive a thank you and go home'. When you think like this, everything else is unimportant. If I listened to all the speculation I'd go crazy. It is difficult to kill me, huh?"

Among his advocates is one Ken Bates, the former chairman, whose acerbic observations have been missing from the Chelsea match-day programme since his departure. It takes a lot to silence the old ranter, though, and yesterday morning, in his newspaper column, he could not a resist a swipe at the regime he left behind, referring to "treachery from within". Bates has his own take on what has occurred, inevitably, but it is extraordinary that, in the week Chelsea ascended to within sight of the European summit, the club's administrators should permit the man who led them there to languish in such uncertainty.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Ranieri attempted to galvanise his men once again, or rather the seven from Tuesday who retained their positions. There had been just a hint of told-you-so in his programme notes when, talking of his rotation policy, he claimed his men had "more power, more stamina, more vitamins" than Arsenal in the second half. "I said at the beginning of the season it is important to rotate all the players so we arrive in good condition in March, April and May," he wrote.

Sound theory. Here, though, his men appeared jaded, if understandably so. For all Chelsea's late pressure, the visitors just about merited their point. At the end, there was a handshake from Ranieri for their manager, Steve McClaren. Fascinating to think that, had Eriksson accepted Chelsea's overtures, he may well have arrived here as the Swede's assistant.

But that's Chelsea, where everything is a little stranger than fiction and where certain people have a problem comprehending quite what a particular Roman has ever done for them.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week