Chelsea slammed by bosses' union

Last updated at 15:35 30 March 2004

Managers' chief John Barnwell claims Claudio Ranieri has been put in an intolerable position as Chelsea manager.

Ranieri's future at Stamford Bridge, where he is under contract for three more years, has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks.

That speculation is unlikely to stop despite Sven-Goran Eriksson, whom the London club talked to last week, signing a new deal with England.

Other names have been in the frame to replace Italian Ranieri as Blues boss and chief executive Peter Kenyon stopped short of backing the current manager in his statement last week.

It is widely expected that the former Fiorentina and Valencia coach will leave his post this summer.

'Intolerable position

"It is an intolerable position to be working under and Chelsea are coming out of it so poorly," said Barnwell, of the League Managers' Association.

"So much that you would think they would come out and say exactly what the position is.

"Claudio has handled a very difficult situation with great dignity, professionalism and a bit of humour as well.

"He is under contract until 2007, we have spoken

quite regularly with him and feel very aggrieved for him.

"As he is under contract he will not say anything detrimental as it would not be in his interests."

Soap opera

Although making approaches to other managers might be common place in Italy where Ranieri cut his teeth and Eriksson worked successfully, Barnwell compared recent events here to a soap opera, with Chelsea coveting the current England coach.

"I think the Football Association should be suing Chelsea for an illegal approach to a manager under contract. It's like a soap opera," he said.

"In Italy they have a different philosophy; moving out to another club halfway through a two-year contract is normal.

"Claudio has been brought up with that but it doesn't make it any less distasteful. If someone has a contract, why abuse it?"

Chelsea face a Champions League quarter-final second-leg showdown with Arsenal next week and trail their capital rivals by seven points in the Barclaycard Premiership title race.

But second place - their highest-ever Premiership finish is third - and a potential last-four tie in the European Cup appears to be irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.

"We have lost five managers in the last fortnight, three from the lower leagues who were working wonders under the circumstances they were given," added Barnwell.

"But nowadays you are not only in danger if you are towards the bottom of the league - and Claudio is fronting that theory."

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