LONDON - Claudio Ranieri is ready to break his silence since being sacked by Leicester when he appears as a television pundit for Arsenal’s visit to Crystal Palace next month, Sportsmail can reveal.
The Italian will be in the Sky Sports studio for Monday Night Football and the Premier League clash at Selhurst Park on April 10 and it is understood questions about his spell at Leicester are firmly on the table.
Sources indicate that Ranieri has chosen the forum due to Jamie Carragher’s staunch backing in his Sportsmail columns. Fellow Sky pundit Gary Neville was also critical of the call to dismiss Ranieri nine months after guiding Leicester to the Premier League title.
The 65-year-old is free to offer his thoughts on what happened, with no gagging clause in place. He has been silent since his shock sacking after the Champions League defeat in Seville, as the club teetered on the edge of entering the relegation zone, barring a short statement where he said his ‘dream died’.
Ranieri yesterday received a special prize at the Italian coach of the year awards here in Florence, 32 days after being dismissed by the champions.
La Panchina D’oro (Golden Bench) recognises the top performances from managers in Serie A, B, and C, but Ranieri was honoured too because of his title-winning exploits. Before picking up his tribute, he told Sportsmail he would speak when he returned to England for the game which pits Sam Allardyce against Arsene Wenger.
‘I will come back for Crystal Palace versus Arsenal,’ Ranieri said.
That match, crucial at both ends of the table, will come almost two months to the day since he last paid close attention to a Premier League game — Leicester’s 2-0 loss to Swansea which ultimately sealed his fate.
Upon accepting his award on a stage at the Coverciano Technical Centre, which houses Italy’s national teams, a video montage of Ranieri’s career appeared on the screen behind him.
When the moments depicting last season’s march to the title played he wore a sombre expression and did not turn round to look up at the enlarged pictures, which included him and Leicester captain Wes Morgan holding the silverware aloft.
Ranieri kept his words brief as he addressed the audience of assembled coaches, which included Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and former Manchester CIty manager Roberto Mancini.
He said: ‘30 years ago when I was starting to be a coach I didn’t imagine I would have a professional career. But after 30 years of it I can say, “I got it”.
‘And this award means that I did something good. I want to thank the Technical Centre for considering me the best coach for this award.’
Since his sacking, Ranieri has split his time between London, Rome and Monte Carlo, and has declined offers to return to management in Germany, Turkey and China.
Mancini, meanwhile, told Sportsmail he did not hold discussions with Leicester after Ranieri’s parting.
The 2012 Premier League winner was linked with the post but offered a firm ‘No’ when asked if the club had been in touch. He did admit a return to England would be welcome, adding that a Champions League club would be his preference. ‘If possible, it’s better,’ he said.
Mancini has also been touted for another job in Serie A with Juventus or AC Milan both possible destinations.