Team is behind me, says under-fire Ranieri

AFP, Tuesday 15 Feb 2011

Roma coach Claudio Ranieri insists he has the support of the dressing room despite rumours to the contrary and speculation that he is about to lose his job

Claudio Ranieri

Roma entertain Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday hot on the heels of a poor run of form in Serie A that has virtually seen them ruled out of the title race.

And with boardroom uncertainty as well behind the scenes as the current club owners search for a buyer, Roma are in dire need of an on-field boost.

But Ranieri claims the club's recent dip is not down to him.

"The coach is like the husband, he's the last to find out about certain things," said Ranieri on Tuesday following a question about his future.

"I have the backing of the team. Three or four months ago I spoke with the players and asked them: Are there problems with me, because if there are I'll go.

"They said no and so here I am. I did it because there's no point denying it, we're having a difficult season.

"Obviously the club's situation that we're going through has had an influence."

And Ranieri was backed by French centre-back Philippe Mexes.

"It's true, the boss has said many times: if you don't like me, I'll go.

"We're giving our all but it's the players who are at fault not the boss.

"We're going through a certain period and we've got to get through it as quickly as possible.

"Unfortunately I can't explain certain dips in tension, maybe it's to do with lack of confidence, we're not managing to realise that we're capable of overcoming the difficulties.

"We've got a blockage and we're not exploiting our form and our potential."

Roma have picked up only one point from their last three games, but were in fairness beaten by two of their title rivals, and against Inter Milan they were reduced to 10 men.

But Ranieri believes they have what it takes to bounce back, starting with Mircea Lucescu's Shakhtar.

"The lads are up for it and I'm very confident. The defeat to Napoli happened, but not because we lacked motivation, they simply played better than us.

"I expect a good game against an elegant team such as Lucescu's. We need to play well and we will.

"We're desperate to go forward in the Champions League."

But despite his focus on Europe's premier competition, Ranieri could not help but think about the club's league troubles.

They are now down to eighth and 13 points off leaders AC Milan.

"We can't kid ourselves, we need to pick up some points, also because this season is very strange," he said.

"With 80 points you can win the title but what's clear is that right now we're off the pace.

"But we won't let up, it's a crucial stage in the season and we're not looking backwards."

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