Juventus sack Ranieri
Juventus on Monday fired coach Claudio Ranieri and replaced him with junior team coach and former player Ciro Ferrara, the club said in a statement.
Ranieri's future had long been the source of speculation and two weeks ago Italian media reported that he would definitely be fired at the end of the season, and sooner still if Juve lost to AC Milan. The Turin side battled to a credible 1-1 draw at the San Siro just over a week ago but Sunday's 2-2 home draw against Atalanta meant they have now gone seven league matches without a win.
"Juventus have fired coach Claudio Ranieri. As of today the first team coach is Ciro Ferrara," said the club statement. "Juventus thank Claudio Ranieri for the work he did in these last two years. We wish the new coach Ciro Ferrara immediate success."
Ranieri, a former boss at Chelsea and Valencia, is the first Juve coach in 40 years to be fired from his post. The 57-year-old joined the club ahead of the start of last season and guided them to third place in Serie A in their first campaign back in the top flight since their relegation in 2006 for match-fixing.
They currently sit third in the table again but seven matches ago they were Inter Milan's closest title challengers and now they face a fight to hold onto a top-three finish with fourth-placed Fiorentina just one point behind. A fourth place finish would mean they would have to negotiate two qualifying rounds to reach the UEFA Champions League group stages, giving them an extra four unwanted matches.
Italian media had long speculated about Ranieri's future but on 15 April general manager Jean Claude Blanc said: "Ranieri is our coach and whatever results we achieve this season, he will be next season as well."
The pressure seemed to be easing off Ranieri after their fine performance against Milan."We have been reactivated," he said after the result. "The international break knocked us off our stride and we weren't ourselves anymore. After we were knocked out of the Champions League we switched off mentally and there was a very real crisis. Milan were the right team to help us return to the team we have been for the last year and nine months (since Ranieri took over)."
However, that proved a false dawn as the club's defensive frailties were ruthlessly exposed by Atalanta, who hit the bar three times as well as scoring twice.
Ferrara steps in
Former centre-back Ferrara, 42, was a long-time Juve stalwart and played more than 250 Serie A matches for the club from 1994 to 2005. He won the Serie A title eight times during a 20-year career although the last of those with Juve in 2005 was annulled due to the calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
The centre-back began his career at Napoli, in the city of his birth, and played alongside Argentina great Diego Maradona in both the club's title successes in 1987 and 1990. He moved to Juve in 1994 and played for the club during arguably it's best era under Marcello Lippi, culminating with Champions League success in 1996.
Ferrara also made 49 appearances for Italy and played in the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ and the team that finished runners-up at UEFA EURO 2000. However, as a centre-back during an era when Italy was awash with talented centre-halves, he often found himself behind the likes of Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Fabio Cannavaro in the national team pecking order.
After retiring from playing Ferrara joined Lippi's backroom staff with Italy and was on the books during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which Italy won. After that he went back to Juventus to take over the running of their youth programme.