Can Claudio Ranieri save Fulham FC from Getting Relegated?

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By James Connolly

A football manager is one of the most results-driven jobs in the entire world. A spell of poor results is always sure to spark speculation of an impending sacking. The latest victim in the Premiership is Slavisa Jokanovic, the 50-year-old Serbian now former manager of Fulham.

Last season Jokanovic was something of a hero. He piloted Fulham to a Premiership return when they beat Aston Villa in the playoffs by one goal to nil, after being reduced to just 10 men 20 minutes from the end of the game.

That is all forgotten now. With only one win from their first 12 games, Shahid Khan, the Fulham chairman, made what he said was a reluctant decision, to sack Jokanovic.

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His big-name replacement is 67-year-old Claudio Ranieri. He guided Leicester to their remarkable Premiership title in 2016, and was recently in charge at French side, Nantes. His pedigree is impressive, having managed Atletico Madrid and Valencia in Spain, Inter Milan, Juventus and Roma in Italy, not to mention his four-year stint at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea.

Khan needed to make a decisive move if there was to be any hope of turning The Cottagers’ season around, and the hiring of Ranieri is exactly that. His credentials are undeniable, and his experience and success in the Premier League will serve him well.

The Fulham chairman says that Ranieri’s work with Leicester has become legendary, and that his vast experience at the top flight in football in three of the most prominent footballing nations in Europe makes him an extraordinary manager.

For his part, Ranieri is looking forward to his new challenge by saying that he has accepted Khan’s invitation with honor. He believes Fulham are a fantastic club with a great heritage and he’s looking forward to leading them. The Italian is of the opinion that the Cottagers are destined for more than just survival in the Premiership.

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His first test will come on Saturday when Fulham host Southampton at Craven Cottage. Then his team will face two of his previous clubs, playing Chelsea away on the 2nd of December, and hosting Leicester at the Cottage on the 5th. After that, their difficult start to December continues when they meet Manchester United at Old Trafford on the 8th.

Ranieri is quoted as saying that he has fought for everything all his footballing career and that now it is time for his Fulham team to do the same. He went on to say that he came to Craven Cottage because he believes in them. He said he is not crazy and it won’t be easy. Then again, nothing in top flight football ever is. He recounted how he took third tier Cagliari from the jaws of relegation in 1988 and steered them through the ranks up to Serie A.

In 2007, he was accused of being mad to accept the job managing Parma. He went ahead anyway, and by engineering a run of 17 points from ten games, he saved them from relegation too.

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His new team’s defense has leaked 31 goals in just 12 games. With a natural bent for good defense, this is something he will look to address quickly. At Leicester, he famously awarded his players a pizza for their first clean sheet. For the Fulham players, he has promised them a Big Mac.

In the summer Fulham spent almost £100-million on new signings, but Khan has told his new manager that he wants to see how his existing squad performs under their new manager before beefing up the squad. However, he has promised to be there if Ranieri needs anything in the transfer window.

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