AS Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri knows that the best way to respond to ongoing speculation about his future is to finish the season by winning silverware.
The principality club travel to Ligue 1 strugglers En Avant de Guingamp today in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France and are huge favorites to lift the trophy at the Stade de France next month with Paris Saint-Germain already out.
They are also second in Ligue 1, although a 10-point deficit to PSG with five games remaining means it is only a matter of time before the capital club win the title.
Ranieri has done very little wrong since taking charge at the Stade Louis II, leading them to promotion back to the top flight last season and he has a year left to run on his contract. However, that has not dampened speculation that the club’s billionaire majority shareholder Dmitry Rybolovlev will seek to replace the Italian in the summer, with reports last week linking him with an approach for France great, and current Real Madrid assistant, Zinedine Zidane.
“I don’t know if I’ll be the coach of Monaco next season, but I want to win the Coupe de France and finish as close to PSG as possible. When the team wins, it’s better for everyone,” Ranieri said. “I love football, I love my job and I am very serious about my work, but I acknowledge that it’s very difficult to have a career like [Arsene] Wenger or [Alex] Ferguson with a club today.”
Monaco, who have won the Coupe de France five times, but not since 1990-1991 when Wenger was the coach, will be without promising leftback Layvin Kurzawa due to injury.
His absence is a blow as Monaco attempt to handle the pressure that comes with being favorites against a Guingamp side who have lost their last four matches in Ligue 1.
“We are the big favorites to win the Cup, which is to be expected. The pressure will be on us,” said Ranieri, although Guingamp will be looking to return to the final of a competition they won as a second-tier side in 2008-2009.
On that occasion they stunned their Brittany neighbors Stade Rennais at the Stade de France and there is a possibility that the clubs could meet again in the final.
Rennes, who have not won a major trophy since the 1970-1971 Coupe de France, were due to play second-tier Angers SCO in the first semi-final yesterday at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.