Claudio Ranieri blames Chelsea owner Abramovich for Tinkerman nickname
CLAUDIO RANIERI blames Roman Abramovich for his nickname “Tinkerman”.
And that’s because the Russian billionaire bought him so many new players during their brief stint together at Chelsea.
Ranieri believed he would get the ax as soon as Abramovich became Chelsea’s new owner in July 2003.
Instead, he oversaw the spending madness of football history before being fired for Jose Mourinho a year later.
And as the new Watford boss prepares to face his old club at Vicarage Road on Wednesday night, he can’t help but laugh at the memory of that crazy summer.
He revealed: “On returning from Italy, the Chelsea sporting director called me and said ‘We have sold the club to Russians’.
“And I said to him ‘OK, you and I will be the first to go because the new owner is going to change everything.’
“We had a lot of money, but it wasn’t until the end of the summer that we started doing everything.
“Then we bought someone everyday and it was important for me to tie them together even though we had already started the season.
“That’s when some people told me I was the Tinkerman because I changed a lot but, when new players come in all the time, I had to see how they bonded to the team.”
Chelsea signed 12 new signings that summer – including Glen Johnson, Wayne Bridge, Damien Duff, Joe Cole, Juan Sebastian Veron, Hernan Crespo and Claude Makelele – all in the span of seven weeks.
Ranieri added: “It was an incredible season. We finished second in the Premier League behind unbeatable Arsenal and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.
“I also bought Petr Cech and Arjen Robben after this season although I never got to train them so I think I built a very good base for Jose.”
The 70-year-old Italian hasn’t been in touch with his former club for years and laughed: “If I kept in touch with all of my former players, I would spend the whole day on the phone.”
But he is not laughing at the injury crisis that has excluded Ismaila Sarr, Ben Foster and Nicolas Nkoulou until next year.
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Emmanuel Dennis, Juraj Kucka and Ken Sema are also uncertain to welcome the Blues tonight.
Ranieri said: “We are missing a lot of players but I’m not crying.
“The world knows we are the underdogs, but we have a very good group of players and now is a good time for them to show what they can do.”
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