Fulham announce Claudio Ranieri as new manager
London club sack Jokanovic and replace him with Italian who led Leicester to title
Claudio Ranieri is the new Fulham boss. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Fulham have appointed Claudio Ranieri as their manager after sacking Slavisa Jokanovic. The Italian, who led Leicester to the Premier League title in 2016 and has also managed Chelsea, takes over with the club bottom of the Premier League.
Jokanovic has been dismissed after taking five points from 12 matches this season. The Serb led Fulham to promotion last season.
Fulham said Ranieri had signed a “multi-year contract” and their owner, Shahid Khan, said: “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 to Fulham football club.”
Ranieri was most recently in charge of Nantes, where he left by mutual consent last May after one season, in which the club finished ninth. He was dismissed by Leicester in February 2017, less than a year after winning the title.
“It is an honour to accept Mr Khan’s invitation and opportunity to lead Fulham, a fantastic club with tradition and history,” Ranieri said. “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. 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.”
The sacking of Jokanovic comes less than three weeks after Khan strongly backed the manager amid suggestions that the Serb would be sacked after a summer spend of more than £100m.
“Don’t believe anything you read,” Khan wrote in Fulham’s programme. “The sensational and fictional headlines related to Slavisa; I’m in equal parts amused, astonished and disappointed. Optimism comes naturally knowing we have a head coach who not only understands and appreciates the honour of representing Fulham, but also the past two seasons has found the right formula to hit our stride in time for a strong run in the second half of the campaign.”
Jokanovic described himself as a “fantastic coach” before last Saturday’s defeat at Liverpool and said his players needed to work harder.
Fulham picked up five points from their opening 12 league fixtures with the defence a major concern. Jokanovic’s side conceded 31 goals in those 12 games and had the worst defensive record in the division.
They are, however, only three points behind Southampton in 17th place. After the games against the Saints on November 24th they face Chelsea away, Leicester City at home and Manchester United away.