Ranieri confident of pulling ‘quality’ Fulham out of the mire

Fulham have lost nine times on their way to gaining just five points, but Claudio Ranieri believes there is still hope for a team bolstered by around €100 million in summer signings. (Reuters)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Ranieri confident of pulling ‘quality’ Fulham out of the mire

  • Ranieri, the manager behind Leicester’s incredible 2016 league title win, took over from sacked Slavisa Jokanovic on Wednesday
  • Claudio Ranieri: When I watched some matches I said this team has enough quality to be safe ... I need fighting spirit

LONDON: Claudio Ranieri said Friday that he was confident that he can drag rock bottom Fulham out of relegation danger after taking over at the newly-promoted Premier League side this week.
Ranieri, the manager behind Leicester’s incredible 2016 league title win, took over from sacked Slavisa Jokanovic on Wednesday after his Serb predecessor only managed one win in 12 matches in his debut season as a coach in England’s top flight.
Fulham have lost nine times on their way to gaining just five points, but Ranieri believes there is still hope for a team bolstered with around 100 million euros ($114 million) of summer signings after winning promotion from the Championship last season.
“When I watched some matches I said this team has enough quality to be safe ... I need fighting spirit,” said Ranieri to reporters on Friday.
The Italian wants to combine that talent — owner Shahid Khan splashed out on Jean Michael Seri Andre Schuedefensivesrrle, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Alfie Mawson — with the grit that saw his Leicester team overcome all the odds two years ago.
“Quality with fighting spirit we can do a good job. If there is only quality, without organization, defensive tactics, it’s difficult to help the players to maintain the clean sheet,” added Ranieri.
“Now for me it’s important to put in the brain of my players this philosophy. Play football, play well, but when you lose the ball I want to see you with an anchor, like pirates.”
Ranieri returns to England as a coach for the first time since being sacked by Leicester in February 2017 after a disastrous title defense.
He was in Leicester last weekend to pay his respects to Foxes owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the four others killed in a helicopter crash last month.
However Ranieri played down suggestions of creating another miracle by winning the title with Fulham.
“Forget what happened yesterday, that was a bonus. A fairytale I forget,” the 67-year-old said of his and Leicester’s first ever league title win.
“Now it’s important, don’t think about the miracle. It’s important there will be a lot of battles and it’s important to be ready together.”
Asked whether he would reward his Fulham players with pizza when they kept clean sheets like he did at Leicester, Ranieri joked: “Pizza is not enough now. Better everybody to McDonald’s.”
He will face two of his former clubs in his first three games, with the December 2 trip to Chelsea followed by what will be an emotional return to Leicester three days later.
He said: “I think only of Southampton. In this moment it’s important. Don’t think about other things, Southampton, Southampton. And then after Southampton, Chelsea.”


Tearful Louis Oosthuizen claims South African Open crown on home soil

Updated 09 December 2018
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Tearful Louis Oosthuizen claims South African Open crown on home soil

JOHANNESBURG: Louis Oosthuizen had endured a 33-month winless run since winning the Perth International back in February 2016, but he ended it by lifting the South African Open trophy for the first time Sunday after a six-shot victory in Johannesburg.
The 36-year-old South African closed at the Randpark Golf Club with a four-under-par 67, shrugging off a poor start to hole an eagle on 14 and finish well clear of runner-up Romain Langasque from France.
Schedule clashes meant Oosthuizen was playing in the South African Open for the first time since 2010 and he wept after clinching an ultimately comfortable victory.
“This is a very special victory for me as I become only the sixth golfer to win the two oldest national golf championships, the Open and the South African Open.
“I wish the family was here,” a tearful Oosthuizen said on the 18th green. “The crowd was great this whole week, it was nice to do it for them.”
Fellow South Africans Ernie Els, Bobby Locke and Gary Player, Swede Henrik Stenson and New Zealander Bob Charles previously achieved the ‘double’.
“I did not start well today, scrambling a par at one and dropping shots at two and three before recovering with four birdies to turn two under for the round.
“For the second successive round I struggled off the tee early on and had to bite the bullet before coming good as the round progressed.
“While realizing that I was building a good lead, it was not until 14 that I could relax a little bit.
“My nine-iron second at that par-five hole was a perfect shot, leaving me with a short putt for an eagle.”
Oosthuizen opened with a 62 for the first-round lead, but trailed fellow South African Charl Schwartzel by two shots at the halfway mark having carded a 70.
A third-round 67 gave him a three-stroke advantage and the expected final-round challenges from Schwartzel and in-form Matt Wallace of England never materialized.
Instead, Langasque, who trailed Oosthuizen by seven shots after three rounds, fired a five-under 66 that included an eagle and five birdies to surge into second spot.
Major winner Schwartzel closed with a 72 to share third place with compatriots Thomas Aiken and Bruce Easton and Oliver Wilson from England.
Langasque’s closing 66 earned him one of three spots available for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club in 2019, with 2011 Masters Tournament winner Schwartzel and Wilson claiming the other two spots up for grabs.