Ranieri defends Roma start
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Roma coach Claudio Ranieri defended his team after their disappointing start to the season and rejected rumours of a rift with his captain Francesco Totti.

Roma, who host Bologna tomorrow, are yet to win after two games of this season's championship, having finished second behind Inter Milan last term. Ranieri used his pre-match press conference to attack the press for their criticisms of his team, refusing to answer questions during a terse monologue.

"This time it's me that starts and it's me that finishes," he said. "I've heard so many things that I want to give you the truth. The game is the responsibility of the coach. Talking about it afterwards is easy. Easy! Too easy, gentlemen. That's for the sports bar.

"We're going through a difficult period and I've been through 3,000 of them in my career. I have 20 years of experience. Do you think that I spend my time smoking a cigar in the dug-out? What we managed last year, we'll do again this year. I tell you and I promise."

Roma also lost their opening UEFA Champions League game 2-0 at Bayern Munich on Wednesday, with Totti publicly regretting the fact they had played in "such a catenaccio style".

"It's definitely the same team," said Ranieri. "I don't accept all these references. We're a team that plays football, I'll prove it. I read that Totti was against me. You can't write anything more absurd. I have a loyal relationship with all the players, particularly with my captain, who has spent his life here and who has suffered a thousand wrongs for his team. As a Roman and a romanista, I don't understand it."

Totti, who has been on Roma's books since 1989 and who holds the records for most goals and most appearances at the club, said there was no cause for concern over his relationship with Ranieri.

"The dialogue between a player and coach goes on daily, especially when it's with his captain. Our coach is a Roman, and a romanista. It's a thread that connects everyone who speaks the same language. We understand each other right from the start."