Who laid the foundation for Chelsea, it is Jose Mourinho or Renieri?
I have watched journalists and sports analysts make commentaries and debates on who laid the foundation for the success of Chelsea in Europe.
Peter Drury; a prolific English commentator was of the view that if credits are to be given, then Claudio Ranieri must not be left of that, for he laid an unquestionable foundation for the success, exploits, and all the credits that Jose Mourinho enjoyed, by delivering trophies, winning the fan base and being highly recognized as the special one.
In the period of rifts and media effrontery between Jose Mourinho and Arsenal legendary manager Arsene Wenger, Wenger said:
- That Claudio Ranieri built foundations for Chelsea success
- John Terry and Frank Lampard both played for the blues under Ranieri
- Wenger said Chelsea had a strong team when Jose Mourinho arrived
- The Arsenal manager doesn’t see Leicester’s Ranieri as a ‘Tinkerman’
Ranieri arrived at Chelsea in September 2000 whereon he took Chelsea to sixth in both 2000/01 and 2001/02, but the following season made the top four and a Champions League spot with a dramatic 2-1 win over Liverpool on the last day of the season. To many, this is the reason Roman Abramovich invested in the club…
Renieri gave the club shape, mettle, and the power-pack to compete on the most intense level by building the proper team that he wanted to play with, by raising proper players which were in turn inherited by Jose Mourinho. The likes of John Terry, Wayne Bridge, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, Joe Cole, and William Gallas were all part of Ranieri’s 2003-04 Chelsea side that finished second behind Arsenal in the Premier League.
Twelve months later, the same players were winning the title under Mourinho; and Wenger said: ‘When Claudio left Chelsea he built the team that was so successful at the start.
- ‘I remember them finishing second in the league with Ranieri and the team was upcoming with young players like John Terry and Frank Lampard who were the players that contributed to the success of Chelsea.
- ‘I like him. He has served football in a very positive way. I think he deserves a lot of respect and I don’t see him as a “Tinkerman”.
- ‘Look at the team of Chelsea when he left: they all survived after. They were on the way up when he left.
‘Yes, he built the foundations. He did a great job. He bought Lampard; they had Terry, Desailly, Gallas. They had already a very strong team.’
From signing Frank Lampard and fielding John Terry, to recommending the Cobham training base and coming close to a Champions League final against Mourinho’s Porto, Ranieri gives his honest thoughts on an eventful stint at the Bridge…
Laying the foundations for Abramovich…
“My job was to make Chelsea always high in the table, but we didn’t have so much money to spend. I remember my third year, we didn’t sign any players. We achieved the Champions League, finished fourth in the table, and then Roman Abramovich arrived
“I bought Frank Lampard from West Ham in 2001, and I watched John Terry in the second team, and thought: ‘My God, this guy is very, very good.’
“I had a couple of center-backs who had won the European Championship, the World Cup – Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf – but I said John had to play, and I put him close to Desailly.”
Renieri chose Cobham as the new Chelsea training ground as their Harlington training ground had become outdated, Ranieri helped Abramovich choose their new Cobham based in Surrey. They moved to Cobham after Ranieri had departed the club in 2004.
“He tried to improve everything at the club, in the squad, and in the first year with Abramovich, we went around London to find the solution, to choose the training camp. We went around London, but for me, I said Cobham was the best solution for Chelsea. And then they started to build something, but I didn’t see it. I spoke two or three times with the architect, and then that finished.”
Champions League agony
In Ranieri’s final season – Abramovich’s first – Chelsea beat Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ in the Champions League quarter-final before a semi-final date with Monaco. About to enter half-time of the second leg leading on away goals, Chelsea were pegged back by a controversial Hugo Ibarra goal. Monaco eventually went through 5-3 on aggregate and lost to Mourinho’s Porto in the final.
Chelsea were beaten by Monaco in the Champions League semi-finals in 2003/04
“I was so proud to take the club to the high level and to build something good for our fans at Chelsea. When I lost my job I was so sad because I think I deserved to continue, because the first year we lost in the semi-final of the Champions League. But that is the job, that is the job, and I restart.
“When we were 1-1 at the end of the first half against Monaco, they played with 10 men, I left on one defender, I put Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on, we had two or three chances to score goals, but their counter-attack!
“They scored twice and we lost 3-1. But the second leg at Stamford Bridge was 2-0 for us, and they scored in the last minute of the first half with a handball that the referee didn’t see. I am sure if we had gone in 2-0 up, we would win the match. But that story is another story.”
Chelsea spent millions upon Abramovich’s arrival, with Ranieri leading them to second in the Premier League in 2003/04.
“That was a big change. I remember when Roman wanted Sven-Goran Eriksson, but he was England’s manager and wasn’t free. And then he told me: ‘Claudio, start with your job.’ But when I arrived, the Sporting Director [Peter Kenyon] changed everything, he said: ‘If Claudio doesn’t win, it’s a disaster, blah blah blah.’
“And then I tried to do my best, I built a very good team, I chose Petr Cech for Roman, and then I asked for Didier Drogba, but after I leave, Roman bought Drogba. But I chose Drogba also.
Ranieri left Chelsea in 2004, replaced by Jose Mourinho
“I said OK, if I have to leave I leave with my head held high, to have done my job with a lot of professionalism, and I am happy! I was so concentrated on doing my job the best I could do. A lot of fans tell me you built the big Chelsea. I say thank you, but of course, Jose made a fantastic job, a very, very good job.”
Renieri left behind the following players for Jose Mourinho:
CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB LIST 2003-2004:
Marco Ambrosio, Carlo Cudicini, Jurgen Macho, Makabu Makalambay, Neil Sullivan.
Celestine Babayaro, Winston Bogarde Wayne Bridge, Marcel Desailey, William Gallas, Robert Huth, Gien Johnson, Mario Melchiot, and John Terry.
Dermian Duff, Jeremi, Jesper, Frank Lampard, Claudio Malekele, Alexis Nicolas, Scott Parker, Emmanuel Petit, Mario Stanic, Juan Veron.
Hernan Crespo, Filipe Oliveira, Guohjohnson, Jimmy Hasselbaink andAdian Mutu.