READY TO WORK: Ranieri looking to ensure Watford survive
PA John Walton
New Watford boss Claudio Ranieri has promised to “work hard and fast” as he looks to push the club towards Premier League stability.
The Italian former Chelsea and Leicester manager replaced Xisco Munoz, who was dismissed on Sunday after just 10 months in charge, as the new head coach at Vicarage Road, signing a two-year contract.
Ranieri inherits a club 15th in the table with seven points from seven league games this season since being promoted back to the top flight.
The 69-year-old famously guided Leicester to the Premier League title in 2016 and knows he will have to hit the ground running when Watford return to action after the international break at home to Liverpool.
“Watford is a very good club for me. I wanted to come back to England and I’m very pleased, very happy, and want to do my best,” Ranieri said on the Watford club website.
“I think in England everyone knows me from Chelsea or Leicester, I want a team who tries to score goals.
“We have very good players up front, very fast. I want to close the space a little more and help the defensive line.
“A lot of players came in, a new manager, and we need a little time but I know in the Premier League there isn’t time. For this reason we have to work hard and fast.
“I hope to give them (the fans) a very good show.
“They know we play against Liverpool and we need their support from the first to the last second of the match. Against every team there are specific moments where we are under pressure.”
Ranieri feels Watford – who opened the campaign with victory over Aston Villa and also won 3-1 at fellow promoted side Norwich before Munoz’s departure – have the core of a squad capable of holding their own.
“I watched all of the Premier League matches (so far). I think there are very good players, I have my philosophy, my mentality and we have to work hard to change little things,” the Italian said.
“I don’t start (working with) with all of the guys (yet) because I have some injured players and there are some international players. We are working well, a very good group so far and I am very confident.
“It’s not easy because the next match is Liverpool – one of the best teams in Europe.
“Of course I have to work quickly, try to do my best, and also (make sure) my players understand me very soon.
“The first idea is to be safe – 40 points are very necessary. Then, we will see.”
Ranieri – sacked by the Foxes just nine months after their title triumph following a poor start to the 2016-17 campaign – becomes Watford’s 13th permanent manager since the Pozzo family took control of the club in 2012.
The Italian counts the likes of Napoli, Fiorentina, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Roma, Inter Milan and Monaco on the list of his former clubs.
Ranieri also managed the Greece national side and had a brief spell in charge at Fulham during 2018-19, lasting just 106 days.
While he could have taken a well-earned break from the game, Ranieri is relishing the opportunity to get back into the dugout again.
“I love football, football is my life and I have a long future. It is the ambience, the adrenaline. It is in my blood,” he said.
“To the fans I can say – we work hard, the campaign will be very difficult, but we are confident.”
On Thursday, Watford announced the signing of Cameroon defender Nicolas Nkoulou.
The 31-year-old free agent agreed a deal until the end of the season to become the first arrival of Ranieri’s tenure.
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