Global Affairs

Claudio Ranieri: Watford manager says he can beat Roy Hodgson’s record as Premier League’s oldest boss

Watford boss Claudio Ranieri believes he could surpass Roy Hodgson as the Premier League’s oldest manager.

The Italian takes charge of Watford for the first time on Saturday at home to Liverpool, four days before turning 70.

Hodgson left Crystal Palace in May, just over two months before his 74th birthday.

“Why not?” Ranieri told BBC Sport when asked if he could continue in management as long as Hodgson. “I am so young. I don’t feel [my age].”

Ranieri, who won the Premier League with Leicester City in 2015-16, added: “Football is my life. If I feel good, if I feel emotion, if I feel I have enough energy to give to my players, I want to continue.”

Former England boss Hodgson, whose career lasted 45 years, is in distinguished company with Sir Alex Ferguson, Neil Warnock and Sir Bobby Robson the only other Premier League managers who continued into their 70s.

Watford are Ranieri’s fourth Premier League club following spells at Chelsea, Leicester and Fulham.

‘In Italy this is normal’

Although the Italian knows the Pozzo family, who own Watford, well – he almost became manager at their Serie A club Udinese earlier in his career – he also knows they are ruthless when it comes to getting rid of managers who are not meeting their high standards.

Ranieri has been given a two-year contract but the longevity of Watford managers tends to be measured in months given the 14 changes made since the Pozzo family took control at Vicarage Road in 2012.

“In Italy this is normal,” said Ranieri of the frequent turnaround of managers. “Only in England was it not normal. But even here a lot of clubs have changed.”

It is not lost on Ranieri that he was sacked by Fulham in 2019 after only 106 days in charge. And, despite steering Leicester to their staggering Premier League title triumph in 2016, he was dismissed the following season.

Ranieri’s popularity means he will be welcomed back to England.

The ‘Tinkerman’ nickname he was given at Chelsea and the famous ‘dilly-ding, dilly-dong’ catchphrase he coined at Leicester as he tried to take the pressure off his players on the run-in to their momentous achievement have gone down in Premier League folklore.

Judging by Ranieri’s demeanour during his first round of media engagements, a smile will never be far away. But, after a 35-year career, Ranieri knows that will count for nothing if Watford cannot get positive results.

“I can laugh as much as I want,” he said. “If I don’t get any points, the laughing is finished.”

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