Ranieri expecting Samp improvement

Sampdoria
Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri says Tuesday's visit of Brighton is a 'crucial' clash for his relegation-threatened side.

New Sampdoria boss Claudio Ranieri does not expect the club to be struggling at the bottom of the Serie A standings for much longer.

Experienced campaigner Ranieri was appointed as Eusebio Di Francesco’s successor at Sampdoria last week, with the Genoa-based club currently rooted to the bottom of the table after losing six of their opening seven games.

It is the second time the former Leicester boss has replaced Di Francesco in the space of seven months after he also succeeded his compatriot at his boyhood club Roma towards the end of last season.

In a quirk of the fixtures, Ranieri’s first game in charge of Samp will be against Roma at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday on the day of his 68th birthday.

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However, the former Chelsea and Juventus coach insists there will be no doubting where his loyalties lie come kick-off.

“As for facing Roma on my debut – and my birthday – it’s all wonderful,” Ranieri told reporters. “Naturally, when we step on to that pitch, there is no love but only professionalism. May the best team win, we will try to give our best.”

Ranieri is also convinced that Samp, who have finished in the top half of Serie A in each of the last three years, have too much quality to be rooted to the bottom of the table, but he knows they will have to work hard if they are to turn their campaign around.

“I am convinced this squad does not belong at the foot of the Serie A table,” he added.

“When a team is rock bottom, naturally there is a lack of self-esteem, but I want my players not to give up. I am a sportsman, so I know how to accept defeat if the opponent proves he is stronger, but he has to prove it.”

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