The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Language barrier hits Chelsea hard

London: Chelsea’s Italian manager Claudio Ranieri says communication problems are holding up the development of his team.

Three of the new arrivals at Stamford Bridge — Frenchman Claude Makelele, Argentine Hernan Crespo and Romanian Adrian Mutu — do not yet speak English. That means Ranieri has to give team talks in Italian and Spanish, as well as English.

Ranieri himself could not speak English when he arrived at the club and the Italian admitted it caused problems. “When I arrived at Chelsea it was a mess,” said Ranieri. “I could speak with Marcel Desailly in Italian or Gus Poyet in Spanish and they would pass it on to other players,” he maintained.

“It is more or less the same now, but the players can talk to each other. Mutu is Romanian and Crespo is Argentine but they can communicate with each other because they both speak Italian,” the coach said. “Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is Dutch but he can speak Spanish and can talk to Crespo. When I talk to the players I speak first of all in English, then I say ‘sorry, now I will speak in Spanish, or Italian’,” Ranieri added.

“Then on the touchline I speak another language so the other manager doesn’t understand what I am saying!”

Ranieri’s team talks might also be confusing players who never know if they will be playing or not. The Italian likes to call himself the ‘Tinkerman’ for his habit of changing the starting line-up every match.

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