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‘Wily old fox’ Claudio Ranieri pleased with Sampdoria start

Claudio Ranieri, Sampdoria, AS Roma, Serie A
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Birthday boy Claudio Ranieri is pleased with his start to life at Sampdoria following this afternoon’s 0-0 draw against AS Roma on his debut.

Ranieri, who celebrates his 68th birthday today, earned a point on his Sampdoria debut against hometown club AS Roma, who he also previously coached across two separate spells in the Serie A.

The former Leicester City and Chelsea coach replaced the fired Eusebio Di Francesco last week, with fans warmly welcoming him to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris before kick-off.

The match itself, though, was a rather dull affair with both teams creating very few chances. Things only really began to get interesting when the referee sent-off Justin Kluivert for a double yellow card.

It triggered a late scramble for a winner before Roma keeper Pau Lopez denied Ranieri the perfect birthday present by expertly saving Sampdoria substitute Federico Bonazzoli’s effort.

“The lads worked very well in training, but you can only tell so much in that situation,” Ranieri told Sky Sport Italia.

“Roma are a good team, they keep possession. But we wanted to push them towards the wings, as they are above all dangerous through the middle. We weren’t that interested in possession.”

On his surprise decision to bring on midfielder Andrea Bertolacci, Ranieri said: “I preferred to be called a wily old fox when I was young, as now it feels a little too close to home! Maybe you think I’m going senile…

“I told Bertolacci to play as long as he could and then I’d bring in Albin Ekdal, who arrived very tired after international duty.

“I was satisfied with the midfield, combining experience with youth. I had wanted Bertolacci in a more advanced position, closer to [Fabio] Quagliarella

“But, after a while, there were too many gaps and I asked him to remain back there to protect the defence.”

While it wasn’t the perfect start, Ranieri at least snapped Sampdoria out of a three-match losing streak.

The Blucerchiati will now aim to build on this draw to finally get away from bottom-spot in the Serie A standings.