Ranieri's Nantes on the up
When Nantes lost their opening two Ligue 1 Conforama matches, and sat 19th in the standings, supporters and observers alike were sceptical.
"I asked the fans to be patient with us, because we have a team that will get better," coach Claudio Ranieri told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports. A month later and the Canaries are chirping proudly again, having taken 10 points from four matches to climb to seventh place ahead of this weekend's action.
"We're unbeaten in four now, and this was our first win at the Beaujoire, so it feels good," said defender Koffi Djidji after last weekend's 1-0 home win against SM Caen.
Italian coach Ranieri has turned things around by instilling the kind of principles that worked so incredibly well for him during his time at Leicester City in England.
Nantes are defending stoically as a team. Starting with the goalkeeper Ciprian Tatasuranu who has pulled off 43 saves in his five appearances. Indeed, with centre-backs Nicolas Pallois and Djidji forming a solid partnership in front of him, the Romanian has kept four clean sheets in a row.
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"We're doing well now, but we mustn't let up. We needed to develop a real defensive unit in order to have the solid platform we've had in the last four games," said the skipper Léo Dubois.
Nantes have the second-best defensive record in the league, but their attack is hardly prolific. They've scored just three goals so far, enough to win three games by the scoreline of a goal to nil. But for Ranieri, the most important thing for now is getting points on the board.
"I have an Italian philosophy. I want a disciplined team - 1-0, for me, is perfect. 2-0 is even better. When you start winning, you gain confidence, and then you can play good football."
It might not be pretty for the moment, yet Nantes sat just three points off the podium coming into Week 7. On Sunday they will look to keep their unbeaten run going when they travel to face RC Strasbourg at the Stade de la Meinau.