RANIERI UNCONCERNED ABOUT REPUTATIONS
By Ciaran Baynes
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Blues boss has come under-fire for dropping the likes of captain Dennis Wise and playing others, such as Marcel Desailly, out of position, but Ranieri said he will continue with his plans whether the players like it or not
"Reputations mean nothing to me," Ranieri told the Sunday Mirror. "If I had Pele or Maradona in my squad and there were not playing well I would leave them out.
"If players complain that's fine. It means they care about not being in the side. As long as they get their heads down and fight for their places I don't have a problem.
"It's only when players complain but don't do anything about it that they are not doing themselves or the club any good.
"Football at this level is about squads, not teams. Any players who just sulk can drag down. I want winners, people who want to die for this club.
"People say I can be hard but I am also fair. I don't demand the impossible, just what the fans want and expect."
The newspaper speculates that Ed de Goey and Frank Leboeuf could be two of the players to make way, as he encourages youngsters Carlo Cudicini and John Terry.
Cudicini has been preferred to de Goey for the West London side's last four games and, since coming into the side in their last three games, Terry has put in some impressive performances.
The 20-year-old defender stayed on the pitch on Saturday when Ranieri changed tactics at half time against Arsenal - choosing to take off Frank Leboeuf instead and his decision paid off when Terry netted the second half equaliser.
Indeed, Ranieri has made reducing the age of the squad he inherited from Gianluca Vialli a priority as he looks to make good his pledge to deliver the title to Stamford Bridge within three years.
"It is important to reduce the average age of the squad," Ranieri said. "It was too high when I arrived and it is still too high.
"I have three years to win the league with Chelsea but the long-term plan is to have the kind of success that Manchester United have had.
"Alex Ferguson has built a squad capable of staying at the top for years. That's our ambition.
"You can't do that if you have too many old players. You need younger ones who can improve and take over from the experienced ones.
"That's why I have been happy to give youngsters like Dalla Bona, Terry and Cudicini their chance.
"I have never let sentiment get in the way of making decisions. I was given the job to win trophies - if I don't I will be sacked.
"I know the situation very well, and I can cope with it."