After Juventus' 2-2 tie against Atalanta Sunday, Claudio Ranieri said he was "99 percent" sure that he would be walking the Old Lady's sideline next season.
As we learned Monday, that statement was far from the truth.
Just 24 hours after making the declaration of his future, the Tinkerman got the axe in a move that was expected by most after the season had come to a close. Juventus is not a club to fire a coach in season, but sometimes things change.
No matter what you think of the timing of the firing, the choice to part ways certainly will bring a smile to many of the Old Lady faithful and is the right decision if Juve want to contend for silverware next season and in the years to come.
A year ago at this time, Ranieri was being praised by many for leading Juve to a third place finish in their first season back from Italy's second division. Those same people were thinking that Juve could take the next step and challenge Inter Milan for the Scudetto, but as the season went on, things began to slowly go down the drain.
Because of injuries in throughout the year, especially in the first half of the fixture list, the Tinkerman was not able to do what his nickname makes you think he does. At times, almost half the squad was out with one injury or another and it seemed as though a different player each week was catching a case of the muscle strains.
But despite that, the team was winning and with the injured getting healthy after the winter break, things only looked up.
My, oh my, how things changed.
To say the second half of the season has been disappointing would be an understatement. Juve have gone two months without a win and are now battling to hang onto third place and a Champions League spot for next season.
Over this period of time, including two draws against the two worst teams in Serie A, it was clear that the players had lost faith in their tactician. This was especially true amongst the Old Guard and the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero were growing increasingly fed up with what was going on in front of them and it was clear that they were ready for some type of change.
Would you rather risk seeing some of the best players in your team's history basically give up on the team they stayed with in its darkest days or part ways with the coach that they don't trust anymore?
The slide can be linked to a number of things. Poor tactics, poor squad selections, terrible defense, some more injuries. You name it and it probably happened during the last two months.
His reluctance to field Italy's best young talent, Sebastian Giovinco, frustrated many and for good reason. When Ranieri finally got some wits about him and set the Atomic Ant wild, the results were evident.
Juve needed some creativity in their side and Giovinco was providing it. He burst on to the European scene in the second leg of the Champions League first knockout stage against Chelsea and his performance against Bologna was simply breathtaking to watch.
Then, not because of his 5'5" frame, but because of Ranieri, little Seba disappeared and was on the bench again. No reason given, just the sight, once again, of the diminutive playmaker sitting on the bench waiting for his chance to play.
Seeing the combination of the defense struggling and the star of the future sitting on the bench was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as the Juve faithful viewed things.
And things were changing amongst the equally maligned hierarchy in Turin.
The Juve board went from supporting Ranieri no matter what the result was to saying that his job will be evaluated at the end of the season.
The results that the team had certainly did not help his case to stay, no matter how safe Ranieri actually did feel, but there were no signs of a firing before the season ended and that's why the sacking has some celebrating a little earlier than anticipated.
So now, two weeks before one of the most-important summers in the team's recent history outside of demotion to Serie B, the team will be led by former defender Ciro Ferrara.
Two weeks is probably not enough time for Ferrara to make a huge impact on the squad, but with Ranieri now out of the picture, it's a step in the right direction to reclaim former glory.
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