Claudio Ranieri believes he can keep Fulham in the Premier League, saying he is "mad, but not stupid" after taking over at Craven Cottage this week.
Ranieri replaced Slavisa Jokanovic with the Cottagers bottom of the table with just five points from 12 games, after spending north of £100 million following promotion to the top flight. Inconsistencies in selection and a terrible defensive record have lead to their dire position, but Ranieri thinks there is still hope.
"If I came here, it's because I believe," said Ranieri, when asked if he thought Fulham still had the quality to avoid relegation. "I am mad, but not stupid. It's not easy, but I believe."
The Italian will face two of his former employers in his first three games, as Fulham visit Chelsea then host Leicester in the first week of December. But Ranieri claimed he is only focusing on his first game in charge, against Southampton on Nov. 24.
"I think only -- believe me -- of when we come back from the international break," he said. "I have just two days before the match. I have just two days to prepare the match. This is my nightmare. I just have to prepare my players.
"We have to defend all together. I know I don't have much time.
"I try to improve the fighting spirit all of my players. My players have to show me my heart. Our family is on the pitch. I say to them: 'Tell me how you are going to save your family.'"
This is a familiar position for Ranieri. In 2007 he was appointed Parma manager when the club were second-bottom of Serie A with less than half of the season remaining, but he turned results around and they ultimately survived comfortably, finishing 12th.
At that stage Ranieri was linked with the Manchester City job, recently vacated by Sven Goran Eriksson, but he eventually took over at Juventus.
"I arrived in Parma, all my friends said I was mad," he said. "'It's not possible to save this team,' but I did."
He claimed his friends aren't quite so sceptical about his latest choice, though. "Everybody said 'Good choice. Fantastic club. Historical club. You can do it.'"
"I love this kind of battle. It's in my character," Ranieri continued. "If I look back, I started with [an] amateur team. Amateur team. Nobody gave me a lift. Everything I claimed, I claimed myself. I am a fighter. A fighter."