Former Premier League champion, Claudio Ranieri has finally been fired by Fulham after failing to lift the team out of relegation zone with barely 10 games to go.
Fulham’s fanfare accompanying the appointment of Claudio Ranieri after Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked in November labelled the Italian as “risk free and ready made for the Premier League”.
Those words were thrown back in the face of Fulham’s owners via a banner brandished during the 2-0 loss at Southampton that ended Ranieri’s calamitous 106-day reign at Craven Cottage.
Fulham were banking on Ranieri repeating his spectacular feats at Leicester City, where he and his team captured the imagination of the world to pull off arguably the biggest shock in the history of British sport by winning the Premier League in 2015-16.
Owner Shahid Khan glossed over the subsequent instant collapse at the Foxes which led to his sacking just nine months later, all momentum lost and the previous season’s triumph looking like the sporting equivalent of lightning striking several times.
Ranieri’s Fulham reign started with a win at home to Southampton but it was a fortunate three points and his lack of impact on any part of Fulham’s team meant they were left sleepwalking back into the Championship after an ambitious £100m spending spree last summer.
He was meant to make Fulham harder to beat, more pragmatic and steely than under Jokanovic’s expansive guidance.
Instead, Fulham have got worse.
Jokanovic’s team were criticised for defensive weakness, but in 12 games they conceded 31 goals while Ranieri’s have conceded 32 in 16 – despite organisation and defensive parsimony being one of the Italian’s selling points.
The football has been dull while Ranieri appears to have mislaid his blueprint for defensive organisation.