Ranieri parachuted in for Roma’s last ditch push for Champions League spot

March 11 – AS Roma have handed Claudio Ranieri his next crisis role. The Italian has signed as interim coach in the Italian capital following Eusebio Di Francesco’s departure. Ranieri will debut with his new club against Empoli tonight.

In football, everything is transient. Di Francesco’s dreamy run with Roma to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season and Ranieri’s failed spell trying to rescue Fulham from relegation already seem to belong firmly to the past. Porto sealed Di Francesco’s fate in the European Cup and Ranieri stepped in two days later, just a week after he had been fired in London.

The 67-year-old flew into Rome on Friday to sign a contract until June 30, a short-term solution until the end of the season. Ranieri enjoyed a spell at AS Roma from 2009 to 2011. He took the club to the runners-up spot in Serie A and lost the Italian Cup final against Inter Milan. The Italian famously led Leicester City to the Premier League title, but since that unlikely exploit he has become something of a crisis manager, having unsuccessfully tried to steer Fulham clear from danger.

“I’m delighted to be coming back home,” said Ranieri. “When Roma call you, it’s impossible to say no. I wouldn’t take this job if it was another club rather than Roma. I only accepted these conditions because it was this club that called. I would have never accepted a 12-game job from any other club.”

“We are delighted to welcome Claudio Ranieri back to the club,” said Roma president James Pallotta.

Roma crashed out of the Champions League in the last sixteen at the hands of Porto. They pushed the Portuguese to extra-time in the second leg, but succumbed to an Alex Telles penalty. On the back of a 3-0 loss to city rivals Lazio, the elimination signalled the end of Di Franceso. Roma sit in fifth spot in the Serie A standings and face an uphill struggle to qualify for next season’s Champions League, trailing fourth-placed Inter Milan by six points.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1566292934labto1566292934ofdlr1566292934owedi1566292934sni@o1566292934fni1566292934