Ranieri returns to Valencia

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The Independent Football

Claudio Ranieri was unveiled as the new coach of Valencia yesterday after he returned to the club he left for Atletico Madrid in 1999.

Claudio Ranieri was unveiled as the new coach of Valencia yesterday after he returned to the club he left for Atletico Madrid in 1999.

The Italian, sacked by Chelsea last week, replaces Rafael Benitez, who resigned last week and who, according to his agent, is shortly to open negotiations to succeed Gérard Houllier at Liverpool.

During his previous spell at the club, which lasted two years, Ranieri won the Copa del Rey and secured qualification for the Champions' League.

"I am very happy," said Ranieri, who has signed a three-year deal. "When they called me up, I said I'd go swimming back. This is my home, I still have my [Valencia] ID card because I knew I'd be back one day.

"I left Valencia at a good moment, then Hector Cuper came and worked very well while Benitez did a great job. It is hard to follow, but I accept the challenge. I like to work hard and I am certain to say I will continue that."

Ranieri will have the responsibility of making his own signings after the departure of the director of sport, Garcia Pitarch. That was thought to be Benitez's main complaint about the club set-up.

Ranieri said he hoped his experience in England would help Valencia.

"The Spanish like spectacle while in England they are fighters, the ball is in the middle and you have to die on the pitch for it," he said. "I think my experience is something I will try and give to my players."

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