Ranieri: 'Roma sold their spine'

Claudio Ranieri criticised Roma for their handling of the Daniele De Rossi situation, selling “the spine of the team” and warned they won’t be back in the Champions League for a while.

The Coach has already said he will leave his caretaker role in the summer and this is seemingly giving the lifelong Giallorossi fan the freedom to criticise his current employers.

He openly said the decision not to hand Daniele De Rossi a new contract was “handled badly” and was even more criticalafter their 0-0 draw with Sassuolopractically ended hopes of Champions League qualification.

“Roma had a fantastic season in 2017-18, but they sold important players, pulling apart the spine of the team that was starting to open up a new era,” Ranieri told Sky Sport Italia.

“Out of nowhere, they were sold and some good players arrived, but they needed time to develop. There was blowback because of that, maybe the more experienced players were lacking reference points and didn’t help the new lads to 100 per cent settle in to Roma.”

Ranieri was brought in to see out the campaign after Eusebio Di Francesco was fired in March.

“When I arrived, I found the team was really struggling on a psychological level, not physically, as Eusebio did a great job here. We beat Juventus last week, but also risked conceding three goals in that game.

“My work here was above all psychological, trying to give some self-confidence back to these players who were feeling rock bottom.”

When Ranieri was asked how Roma should rebuild for next season, his response was anything but reassuring.

“The club has to answer that. There is a good group of players here, it’ll be up to the new Coach to evaluate them based on his ideas to see who will be of use and who won’t.

“I don’t think they’ll be able to challenge for a Champions League place straight away, but Roma must learn to become a stable figure in Europe and then, if the right season comes along when everything goes your way, you can get back into the Champions League.”

The De Rossi issue has prompted even stronger protests against President James Pallotta and director Franco Baldini, especially after the player and Ranieri essentially confirmed the decision to cut him loose was made in America.

“I don’t want to keep going on over this,” said the Coach. “I understand the club wants to do things a certain way, but there are players who must be considered differently to the others and De Rossi should’ve been dealt with in another way.

“I would love for there to be a wonderful celebration for Daniele on Sunday at the Olimpico. This is a lad who started at the Roma academy at the age of 11, so he deserves to feel all the love that these fans are capable of. We must be close to Daniele at this moment.

“I know full well that Romans feel the pressure more when playing for Roma. I remember when I had to substitute De Rossi and Francesco Totti in a derby because they felt it too much.

“Romanisti are visceral, they love Roma beyond all limits. If you play for Roma as a Romanista, you will inevitably give something extra.”

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