Ranieri confident he has until end of season

Under-pressure Inter Milan boss Claudio Ranieri believes he has until the end of the season to turn around the club's fortunes in a torturous season that has led to mounting calls for him to be sacked.

Ranieri is under pressure to guide the nerazzurri past Marseille in the Champions League next week, despite a 1-0 second round, first leg deficit -- otherwise he will be shown the door, according to press speculation.

Inter have not won in nine matches in all competitions and have dropped to seventh in the league, six points off a European finish, not to mention 11 points behind the Champions League qualification spots.

They also crashed out of the Italian Cup in January against Napoli and now the only competition they can still realistically win is the Champions League.

Ranieri, however, said he is only concerned about Friday's trip to Chievo and is not contemplating being replaced.

"Chievo know how to play and they showed that in Turin," he said, referring to their next opponents' 1-1 draw against Juventus last week.

The Inter manager warned that the state of Chievo's pitch could be a problem, although a win would boost his players before the return match with Marseille.

"The ball never bounces. That doesn't mean it falsifies the match but those who play there (regularly) are more used to it," he said.

"If we win it will be a good boost for the (Champions League). We've got 70 days (until the end of the season) to turn the situation around.

"This isn't a positive season for Inter but we have to roll up our sleeves. We just need a bit more determination to turn the wheel full circle."

With Inter's chances of being in next season's Champions League slim unless they win this year's competition, Ranieri is considering resting some players ahead of the midweek clash with the French side.

But he said he was aware that they need to end their dismal run of form.

"Chievo are totally different to Marseille but for now we're thinking about that commitment. At the most I'll see how I can preserve some of my players' energy," he said.

"I hope we won't feel any pressure but that instead both determination and concentration will prevail.

"In the last 20 minutes against Catania the players knew how to react.

"It's not easy for these lads to put up with the criticism and the defeats.

"They were champions of everything but now they find themselves in an absurd league. But I assure you this is a strong and fantastic group."

In those last nine matches Inter failed to score in their seven defeats, finding the net only in two league draws -- 4-4 at home to Palermo and last week's 2-2 at home to Catania.

They did at least show some encouraging signs against Catania, hitting back from 2-0 down to earn a point and mark their first goals in six matches.

Many observers are surprised at how long Ranieri has been given to turn around Inter's torrid run.

But he said he was unsurprised that there is much talk about his position, amid claims that Andre Villas-Boas, sacked by Chelsea last weekend, and France national team coach Laurent Blanc are in the running to take over.

"We're in Italy, I know how things work," said Ranieri.

"I feel good and over the years you (journalists) will get to know me. Right now I'm fired up, determined, decisive and full of desire."

Ranieri spent 18 months in charge of Roma before joining Inter and said he had a more torrid time there."

"You need to go to Rome to see how they can tear strips off you," he said with a smile.

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