x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ranieri is not quite finished

Claudio Ranieri took a call from Scotland on Saturday. "Any truth in the suggestions you might talk to Celtic about taking over as their coach," he was asked.

Claudio Ranieri took a call from Scotland on Saturday. "Any truth in the suggestions you might talk to Celtic about taking over as their coach," he was asked. He thought not, at least at this stage, Ranieri told the caller. Still, it was nice to know he was still being thought of as a manager with a good reputation. Ranieri was sacked by Juventus two weeks ago, identified as the cause of an end-of-season slump that at one point threatened the club's Champions League qualification.

It was a big decision for a club like Juve, who have only ever dismissed one other head coach in their history. It was also galling for Ranieri. His record since taking over a squad who had only just been promoted from Serie B in 2007 is, effectively, two top three finishes in Serie A. Juventus fans may be accustomed to doing better, but Ranieri had guided them back to respectability after the demotion following the scandals over manipulation of match officials.

Some sympathy, it emerged over the weekend, did accompany his departure. "I feel sorry for him," said Momo Sissoko, the Mali midfielder. But the argument against him came fairly noisily from Sebastian Giovinco, the diminutive youngster on whom many of Juve's future hopes are placed. Giovinco was pleased, he revealed, to see Ranieri leave. Giovinco, alias Atomic Ant, said. "He didn't give me the chance to show how well I can do. What can I show when I only get out on the pitch once a month?"

Giovinco will have to work hard still because the squad will be strengthened. Diego, due to join from Werder Bremen, will be first choice in Giovinco's position just behind the strikers. As for Ranieri, Lazio are apparently interested. Roma may have a vacancy too. He should not be out of employment for too long. ihawkey@thenational.ae