Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri: 'I was the only Tinkerman, now there are lots of Tinkermen!'

New Leicester manager hopes to dispel the traumatic memories of Greece by guiding the Foxes to Europe - one step at a time

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The Independent Football

If connoisseurs of football clichés are right when they say 'you are only as good as your last job', it's easy to see why some have derided Leicester City's decision to hire Claudio Ranieri.

The 63-year-old has managed a host of leading European clubs since leaving Chelsea in 2004, including Juventus and Inter Milan, but his spell as manager of Greece remains an inescapable blotch on his CV.

Once labelled the Tinkerman for an almost innate desire to tweak his tactics while at Stamford Bridge, Ranieri has an intriguing theory on how the game has changed in the decade which followed his Chelsea dismissal.

“I think everyone now rotates," he said. "The Tinkerman was one, now there are a lot of Tinkermen!”

His comments were greeted by a ripple of laughter in a packed media suite at the King Power Stadium as Leicester's chief executive Susan Whelan and director of football Jon Rudkin reintroduced him to the English media.

Ranieri is an affable character who often befriends the press wherever he lays his hat, but that didn't prevent the club's honorary vice-president Gary Lineker from branding him an 'uninspiring choice' to replace Nigel Pearson.

The former Foxes striker summed up the sentiments of a section of supporters who were disillusioned to see one of the most successful bosses in their history replaced with a manager many view as a fallen star of yesteryear.

Earlier this year, Ranieri was sacked by Greece after picking up just one point in four matches in their European Championship qualifying group - a tenure defined by the 1-0 defeat to the Faroe Islands which ultimately lost him his job. Former QPR boss Harry Redknapp, too, fired a jibe in his direction.

“I understand but I will work hard to make changes, I respect everybody. But now my problem is not Lineker or Redknapp. My focus is on Leicester.

“I had just one day to train them (with Greece) and then a match. I had four matches, three defeats and one draw. When I saw the Faroe Islands beat us, I said it’s impossible.

"But also without me they would lose the match, then Claudio is not the problem; the problem is maybe all the nation. There are very big problems there, everybody knows, and the football is just a reflection of the life.

"Also, in Greece, I wanted to build something but it's difficult to build on the sand."

The Italian was more animated when quizzed on Leicester's future, rather than his own past. The club believe they have hired one of the most preeminent figures in the game and Ranieri insists he is still hungry to succeed.

He continued: "I think I am an ambitious man and when I spoke with the people at the club, I understood there was a good project and a good programme and I am ready.

"The first part of last season was not so good and I don’t understand why after the 5-3 win against Manchester United, if I remember right, in two months they lost all the matches apart from some draws.

"But the character of the manager and the players and the fans here was a miracle. I want to know what is the true Leicester; the first or the second? I think it is the second Leicester.

"I want to continue to build a solid foundation and arrive in Europe."

The last time Ranieri guided an English team into a European competition was with Chelsea but, despite leading the Blues to second-place in the Premier League and the semi-finals of the Champions League, Roman Abramovich still saw it fit to replace him with Jose Mourinho.

"I understood, Roman wanted to change," Ranieri added. "That is normal. I am not friends with Roman but every time I want to watch a match, Roman says 'this is your house' and that for me is important."

Now he has been introduced to the media with Leicester, the original Tinkerman's first job, other than a pre-season friendly against Lincoln tonight (Tuesday), is to lure Esteban Cambiasso back to the East Midlands.

The 34-year-old Argentine talisman is considering his options after inspiring the Foxes to a 'miraculous' seven victories in their final nine matches to clinch Premier League survival. 

“I have spoken to him," Ranieri said. "I know him from Inter, I coached him there. I said to him: ‘I need you, everybody loves you in Leicester, please come back.’

"He told me he wants to wait to look at all the opportunities offered to him and then he will choose but we need ‘yes’ or ‘no’ because he is a team leader and if he doesn’t come I need another team leader. We don’t start the season without a player like him.”