Ranieri plays down English success in Europe

ROME - The success enjoyed by Premier League clubs in Europe has more to do with imported skill and cash than English superiority, Juventus coach and former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri said on Friday.

The failure of any of Serie A's representatives to reach the quarter-finals of this season's Champions League has prompted soul searching in Italy.

England, in contrast, has three teams in the semi-finals for the third consecutive year after Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal progressed to the last four this week.

"There are very few English people in the English teams, what with the (foreign) owners, coaches and players," Ranieri told a news conference on Friday before Juve's home match against Serie A leaders Inter Milan on Saturday.

"We say English football but it could be the football of any other country. That's why the English FA hired an Italian coach (for the national team) to try (to improve)."

Ranieri, whose side were knocked out by his former team Chelsea in the last 16, suggested spending power is the main difference.

"We talk about English football but we are talking about the football of economics," he said. "Many (clubs) invest, one of them wins the championship and another wins the Champions League, but that does not mean the others have invested badly."

Inter coach Jose Mourinho, who won the 2005 and 2006 Premier League titles at Chelsea after succeeding Ranieri there, said Serie A was no weaker than the English or Spanish top flights.

"I know the other championships because I played three years in England and four years in Spain and I don't agree (that Serie A is inferior)," said Mourinho, who worked as assistant coach at Barcelona in the 1990s.

"They are championships with two or three really strong teams but after there's a very big difference.

"Maybe there aren't these really strong teams in Italy but game-after-game it's more difficult. In England I won the championship because I won against Manchester (United), Liverpool and Arsenal.

"In the Italian championship the team who win, win because they beat Lecce, Genoa, Palermo and Cagliari to gain the points week-after-week to win the championship."