When Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's former manager, Claudio Ranieri, was hired at Chelsea, the Dutch striker couldn't believe his luck - but nearly 20 years later, Hasselbaink says that a lot of the Italian's tactics were confusing.
Ranieri became known as 'the Tinkerman' during a four-year stint at Stamford Bridge, that included reaching the Champions League semi-finals. Hasselbaink was key to his plans - having worked with Ranieri at Atletico Madrid - but speaking in the Summer 2020 issue of FourFourTwo, Hasselbaink now admits that even he struggled to keep track of what the Italian boss asked of him.
"Back then I was in his good books because I was scoring lots of goals and he didn’t have the money to replace me," Hasselbaink told FFT. "He believed that everyone should be able to adapt, and that it’s a weapon to switch formation. But he’d do it four or five times in a game and it confused us."
"Those four years under him were difficult. We had a better team than the table showed and should have finished higher. He’s a good man and I don’t think anyone disliked him as a person – he just had some ideas that didn’t work."
"We never knew which system we were playing. Even if we trained on the Friday using one system, the next morning he might have changed it to something else."
Ranieri is still the longest-serving manager at Chelsea during the 21st Century. He was sacked by the Blues in the summer of 2004, having pushed Arsenal's Invincible side to second in the league, replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Hasselbaink meanwhile left West London at the same time. Having been signed by Gianluca Vialla - who the Dutchman calls a "hero" - he joined Middlesbrough on a free transfer aged 32, rather than fighting with the likes of Hernan Crespo and Adrian Mutu to be Chelsea's starting no.9.
Hasselbaink told FFT that the early days at Chelsea were just as tumultuous, with Vialli losing the faith of the players in 1999.
"It was hard because he signed me, was one of my heroes and a really nice guy," Hasselbaink revealed. "But there was a bit of a power struggle in the dressing room."
Read the full interview with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the Summer 2020 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, available in shops and online from now. Our new magazine looks at the 99 things you’ve forgotten about the noughties, from battles to beach balls, looking at the decade that revolutionised the game as we know it; we examine the golden generation and where it went wrong for England, look over the extraordinary decade of Thierry Henry, remember the fall of ITV Digital, the highs and lows of Harchester United - the fictional side from Sky’s popular drama Dream Team - and look at the formidable partnership of Kaka and Andriy Shevencko over in Milan. We also chat to Jerzy Dudek, Mikael Silvestre, Alan Stubbs and Fredi Kanoute.
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