Claudio Ranieri blames Chelsea owner Abramovich for Tinkerman nickname – saying the Russian bought him too many stars

Claudio Ranieri blames Chelsea owner Abramovich for Tinkerman nickname – saying the Russian bought him too many stars


CLAUDIO RANIERI blames Roman Abramovich for his ‘Tinkerman’ nickname.

And that is because the Russian billionaire bought him so many new players during their brief time together at Chelsea.

Ranieri thought he would get the axe as soon as Abramovich became Chelsea’s new owner in July 2003.

Instead he oversaw the wildest spending spree in football history before being axed for Jose Mourinho a year later.

And as the new Watford boss prepares to take on his former club at Vicarage Road on Wednesday night he cannot help but chuckle at the memory of that crazy summer.

He revealed: “Driving back from Italy, Chelsea’s sporting director called and told me ‘We sold the club to some Russian people’.

“And I said to him ‘OK, you and me will be first to go because the new owner will change everything’.

“We had a lot of money but it wasn’t until late in the summer that we started to do everything.

“Then we bought somebody every day and it was important for me to link them together even though we had already started the season.

“That’s when some people told me I am the Tinkerman because I changed a lot but, when new players arrive all the time, I had to see how they linked with the team.”

Chelsea made a staggering 12 new signings that summer — including Glen Johnson, Wayne Bridge, Damien Duff, Joe Cole, Juan Sebastian Veron, Hernan Crespo and Claude Makelele — all in the space of seven weeks.

Ranieri added: “It was an amazing season. We finished second in the Premier League behind the Arsenal unbeatables and got to the Champions League semi-finals.

“I also bought Petr Cech and Arjen Robben after that season even though I never got to train them, so I think I built a very good foundation for Jose.”

The Italian, 70, has not been in contact with his old club for years and laughed: “If I stayed in touch with all my old players, I would spend all day on the telephone.”

But he is not laughing about the injury crisis that has ruled Ismaila Sarr, Ben Foster and Nicolas Nkoulou out until next year.


Emmanuel Dennis, Juraj Kucka and Ken Sema are also doubtful to host the Blues tonight.

Ranieri said: “We have a lot of players missing but I’m not crying.

“The world knows we are the underdogs but we have a very good group of players and now is the right moment for them to show what they can do.”

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