Fulham have sacked Slavisa Jokanovic and appointed Claudio Ranieri as manager in an attempt to rescue their season.
Jokanovic led the London club to promotion in May but has struggled to adapt them to life in the top flight despite a £100million recruitment drive in the summer.
They are bottom of the league with five points from 12 games and chairman Shahid Khan has turned to Ranieri who led Leicester to their remarkable title win in 2016.
Claudio Ranieri (above) has replaced Slavisa Jokanovic as manager of Fulham
Jokanovic leaves the London club after a poor run of only one win in their opening 12 matches
Jokanovic was informed he would be sacked in a phone call with Khan at 8am on Wednesday morning.
The call came after Fulham had sounded out a number of potential candidates before agreeing terms with the charismatic Italian, the man who had signed Jokanovic as a player for Chelsea.
Though not angry, Jokanovic was understood to be a little perplexed at the timing of his departure. Ranieri is a man he respects while Fulham’s owners had underlined their support to him at the start of the week.
Confident in his ability to improve the side, Jokanovic has never been deluded about a football manager’s lot. He accepted (with dignity) that recent results had prompted Fulham’s actions and will look forward to his next challenge.
Ranieri, meanwhile, said: ‘It is an honour to accept Mr Khan’s invitation and opportunity to lead Fulham, a fantastic club with tradition and history.
‘The objective at Fulham should never be to merely survive in the Premier League. We must at all times be a difficult opponent and should expect to succeed. This Fulham squad has exceptional talent that is contrary to its position in the table.
FULHAM’S RESULTS AND FIXTURES
LAST FIVE RESULTS
Liverpool 2-0 Fulham
Huddersfield 1-0 Fulham
Man City 2-0 Fulham
Fulham 0-3 Bournemouth
Cardiff 4-2 Fulham
NEXT FIVE FIXTURES
Fulham vs Southampton
Chelsea vs Fulham
Fulham vs Leicester
Man United vs Fulham
Fulham vs West Ham
Ranieri was sacked by Leicester just months after leading them to the Premier League title
‘I know this team is very capable of better performances, which we will work on straight away as we prepare for Southampton at the Cottage.’
Ranieri left Nantes in May after one season at the French club he joined after he was sacked by Leicester.
On his return to management on Wednesday, ex-England and Leicester striker Gary Lineker joked, ‘Claudio Ranieri? Really?’ in reference to his reaction to the Italian’s appointment at the King Power.
One football fan joked: ‘What price are Fulham to win the league,’ while another lamented the sacking of Jokanovic, claiming: ‘No one expected Fulham to get promoted to the EPL. Jokanovic over achieved was a victim of his own success.
‘No one expected Leicester to win the EPL. Ranieri over achieved was a victim of his own success. Football forgets too quickly.’
‘I know this team is very capable of better performances,’ Fulham owner Shahid Khan claimed
The first game in charge for the 67-year-old Italian will be against fellow strugglers Southampton after the international break.
Khan said: ‘I wasn’t anticipating having to make this announcement related to Slavisa and wish the circumstances were such that I didn’t have to, but our path this season has led me to make what I know is the correct decision, at the right time, for our players, the club and our supporters.
‘Slavisa will always have my appreciation and respect for everything he did to return Fulham to top-flight football.
‘I am hoping everyone in the Fulham Family shares my heartfelt sentiments for Slavisa and joins me in wishing him success and good fortune, wherever his next stop may be.
‘Making a change without having the right answer or succession plan was not an option, so having someone of Claudio’s calibre ready to accept our challenge was comforting but, most of all, essential.
‘Claudio is risk-free and ready-made for the Premier League, and particularly so for what we need at this moment at Fulham.
‘His recent body of work with Leicester City is literally legendary, and then you look at Claudio’s experience with Chelsea and big clubs throughout Europe, and it’s pretty evident we are welcoming an extraordinary football man at Fulham FC.’
‘His recent body of work with Leicester City is literally legendary,’ Khan said of new manager
Jokanovic, meanwhile, believed the team’s display at Liverpool, despite another defeat, indicated shoots of recovery and the proximity of rivals at the foot of the Premier League table meant they still had a realistic chance of pulling away from trouble.
His young team had been in similar situations before though this was a different level and crucially they lacked the experienced additions he had craved in the summer.
He had expected a slow start as the amount of players they recruited in their £100m spree meant they didn’t have a full pre-season to build together and, notably, key signings such as Alfie Mawson were injured when signed.
Owing to the fact he only had this season remaining on contract, new terms had still to be agreed following his promotion, Jokanovic will not receive a bumper pay-off.