Vialli: how Claudio is making the most of his impossible job

As someone who was once stabbed in the back while occupying the Chelsea hot seat, the last place one would have expected to find Gianluca Vialli during Wednesday night's Champions' League quarter-final against Arsenal was lurking in the bowels of Stamford Bridge talking about Claudio Ranieri.

As someone who was once stabbed in the back while occupying the Chelsea hot seat, the last place one would have expected to find Gianluca Vialli during Wednesday night's Champions' League quarter-final against Arsenal was lurking in the bowels of Stamford Bridge talking about Claudio Ranieri. But Vialli was not briefing against his embattled successor. Rather, he was casting a sorry eye over the club's poor treatment of their manager.

"It's been unfair in the way that someone from the club, since day one, should have said, 'We are not going to change Ranieri at least for this season and next season, and then we'll see how it goes'," said Vialli, who was working for Sky TV. "No one at the club has officially said that. I think that's because there was no one in charge of this sort of thing until Peter Kenyon [the former Manchester United chief executive] took over [in early February]. There's been a power vacuum where Ken Bates [the departed chairman] would have been."

Like the huge numbers of Chelsea fans who sang Ranieri's name during the exciting 1-1 draw with Arsenal, Vialli sympathised with the man who replaced him in September 2000. And yet, like those supporters, he is also certain that a new manager will be in charge come the summer. "The amount of money the club has spent means Roman Abramovich [the owner] wants to be successful now," he said. "Ranieri has been around now for three-and-a-half-years... I think the club want a manager who has probably got a better cv than Claudio in terms of trophies and championships. They want to go for someone like Sven [Goran Eriksson, the England head coach] or Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United]. A name can't guarantee success but at least they have been there, seen it and done it before. It might not be right, but it's quite understandable."

Three-and-a-half years ago, Vialli fell victim to the plotters and schemers of the Stamford Bridge corridors, as he was removed just five games into the new season. No matter that the Italian had guided Chelsea to a period of unprecedented success, the board of the time felt that a change was needed. If five trophies in three years could not save Vialli's skin, a return of none in the same period of time since then does not bode well for Ranieri. "I think this club wants to win silverware," Vialli explained. "Finishing second and getting in the Champions' League quarter-finals or semi-finals is fine, but at the end of the day you need to take some silverware. That's probably the only thing Claudio hasn't achieved. He's done a great job in terms of bringing young players through, signing great players and playing good football, but he needs trophies to convince everybody."

Ranieri, though, will not be given another season to break his duck. Moves are already afoot to replace the Italian in June, with Eriksson and Celtic's Martin O'Neill now favourites for the job. It is, Vialli believes, an impossible environment for Ranieri to work in. "He's in a difficult situation," the 39-year-old said, "but that's the job of a manager. It isn't easy for him, but, then, it's much more of a shock when you are sacked suddenly, as happened to me. These rumours have gone on for so long that it has allowed Ranieri to turn things to his advantage, especially in the way he has been talking to his players. Ranieri's treatment has kind of inspired the players to do it for the manager. He clearly has a quite good relationship with the fans, too, and, probably because of what's happening at the moment, that bond is even closer."

How does Vialli explain Ranieri's continued good humour? "Because he's Italian," Vialli smiled. "It may be an unusual situation for a manager in England to be in because ambitions and plans are a little clearer here than in Italy, but, like all Italian managers, Ranieri thrives under pressure. In Italy, managers don't know how long they're going to be in charge for and there's always rumours about someone taking over. Ranieri keeps saying he doesn't mind the situation because he's used to it, and I believe him."

Despite his sacking at Chelsea and his short-lived spell at Watford, Vialli has lost none of his enthusiasm for the English game. "Work commitments mean that I'm watching the Italian Premiership closely at the moment," said Vialli, who will soon complete Uefa's top coaching badge, "but my hope is to be back in England as a manager. I just love it here. I was at the Olympic Stadium last weekend for the Rome derby and it was a shambles. There were millions of viewers watching that game and we called it off because supporters invaded the pitch. Italian football is a laughing stock."

He added: "The financial situation is bad, too. There's no credibility. I very much like the Italian game, but my desire, my aspiration is to be a manager in this country. And I am available."

Available for an improbable return to Chelsea? "I would love to be here again as manager," admitted Vialli, who is probably more likely to be battling with, ironically, Ranieri for the vacant post at Tottenham this summer. "I know things move forward, but I still keep saying to myself, 'One day...' I believe in destiny and I think one day I will be back here as Chelsea manager."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
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

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project