|How times change – Ranieri led Roma to second spot in Italy’s Serie A last season [AFP]|
Beleaguered AS Roma coach Claudio Ranieri stood firm on Saturday despite a protest from over 200 fans at the club’s training ground over Roma’s continuing run of poor performances.
Ranieri says he has no intention of leaving the Italian Serie A club, despite Roma languishing a disappointing eighth in the league and losing 3-2 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League last-16 first leg last week.
Roma have now lost three major matches in succession – to Inter Milan and Napoli in the domestic league and Shakhtar in European competition – and Ranieri faces a must-win away game against Genoa on Sunday.
Roma currently sit six points away from the last qualifying spot for the Champions League in Serie A.
Police detained four supporters after paper and smoke bombs were thrown in the protest on Saturday. Earlier in the week fans hung banners outside the club’s training centre demanding the team raises its effort.
“I am not jumping ship from Roma. I am not leaving and I won’t be leaving at the end of the season either,” Ranieri said.
“I like a challenge and have a healthy set of players. (They are) Strong, determined and confident of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
“It is a difficult situation, but in Rome bad things are double what they are elsewhere.”
Ranieri has already been criticised this season for indecision over who his main strikers are, and leading scorer Marco Borriello was seen arguing with the coach after he started on the bench against Donetsk.
“We played badly, especially against Napoli,” Ranieri said.
“Against Inter and Brescia, though, we were punished for things that suggest this season something isn’t right.
“We’ve had some problems with the balance of the team. Playing with three strikers means we have been vulnerable in other areas and certain teams will make you pay for that.”
The cash-strapped club are in exclusive sale talks with American consortium Di Benedetto and media reports have said the new owners could look to oust the coach, who led the side to the runners-up spot in Serie A last term.