Claudio Ranieri will make defensive improvement a priority after taking charge of the Premier League’s bottom side Fulham.
Ranieri was named by chairman Shahid Khan as Slavisa Jokanovic’s replacement on Wednesday, signing a “multi-year” contract at Craven Cottage.
The Italian’s arrival comes with the Cottagers having lost six straight Premier League games, winning only once and conceding 31 goals, the most in the division.
While Fulham have shown attacking capability, downing Burnley 4-2 in their sole success, they have been particularly poor at the back and are yet to keep a clean sheet since sealing promotion from the Championship.
Ranieri memorably rewarded his Leicester City squad with pizza when they kept a first clean sheet of the campaign under his leadership in a remarkable 5,000-1 title triumph in 2015-16.
And Ranieri suggested fixing a leaky defence will be towards the top of his agenda at Fulham, with his first game at home to fellow strugglers Southampton a week on Saturday.
“Craven Cottage is amazing. When I first arrived here I thought, ‘Wow!’ It is a story in itself,” Ranieri told Fulham’s website ahead of his unveiling on Friday.
“Often I came to watch matches at Fulham because of my love of football. I came to the very first game of the season against Crystal Palace [a 2-0 defeat].
— Slavisa Jokanovic (@Jokanovic) November 15, 2018
“Fulham showed very good football and it was unbelievable how they conceded two goals. Often this season Fulham have conceded too many goals.
“As an Italian manager, the defensive way is the best method of the team. It is important to have a strong vision of how to work defensively. It’s not only the full-back, or the goalkeeper. When you attack, you attack as 11, when you defend, you defend as 11.”
Ranieri completed one of football’s fairy-tale stories by leading Leicester to their first ever league title, but he feels he has unfinished business in the Premier League after the Foxes sacked him in the following season despite still being in the Champions League.
“I felt I needed to come back to England,” said Ranieri, who spent 2017-18 in Ligue 1 with Nantes. “I went abroad last season to finish my story, but my feeling for English football is so strong that I felt I had to come back.
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) November 14, 2018
“When I met Mr Khan, [I saw] he is an ambitious man and a good chairman, so I want to give him what he desires. I hope we can be safe this season and then from there we follow the way of our chairman and his son [Tony, vice-chairman and director of football operations] to try and grow up and become stronger.
“What I’ve achieved is in the past. I always look forward and want more, I hope to do a very good job.”
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