Fulham Announce Claudio Ranieri Has Replaced Slavisa Jokanovic as Manager

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2018

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Former Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri reacts following the Premier League match between Leicester City and Burnley FC at The King Power Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)
Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Fulham have confirmed Claudio Ranieri has replaced Slavisa Jokanovic as the club's manager. 

The Cottagers announced the managerial switch on Wednesday:

Fulham Football Club @FulhamFC

Shahid Khan today announced that he has appointed Claudio Ranieri as Manager of Fulham Football Club, replacing Slaviša Jokanović. 👉 https://t.co/BUE1vNnvaO https://t.co/pfxS97ONPG

In a statement, Fulham said Ranieri has been given a "multiyear contract" at Craven Cottage.

Jokanovic has departed Fulham with the team bottom of the Premier League, having accrued five points from their first 12 matches and lost each of their last six. They also have the worst defensive record in the division as they have conceded 31 goals and are yet to keep a clean sheet.

Chairman Shahid 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."

Jokanovic joined Fulham in 2015, shortly after earning Premier League promotion with Watford.

After keeping Fulham in the Championship in his first season, he guided them to the play-offs the following year, where they lost to Reading. Last season, the 50-year-old took them to the play-offs again and this time triumphed over Derby County and Aston Villa to secure promotion.

Alex Harris of the Daily Star thanked the Serb for his service:

Alex Harris @Alex_Harris1991

Thanks for dragging our club off the ground, giving us an identity, masterminding two thrilling seasons in the Championship and, most importantly, *that* day in May @Jokanovic. A true Fulham legend. #FFC

He has now made way for Ranieri, and ESPN FC's Michael Cox noted the pair have come full circle:

Michael Cox @Zonal_Marking

Jokanovic was Ranieri's first signing at Chelsea in 2000, incidentally

Ranieri said of his appointment:

"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. 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."

Fulham have become the 18th team Ranieri has managed in his coaching career, which began more than 30 years ago.

The Italian has managed the likes of Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan in that time, but his biggest achievement came in 2016 when he guided Leicester City—who had only just survived the year before—to the Premier League title.

He was sacked the following season as results declined, but not before topping the Foxes' UEFA Champions League group to help them reach the knockout phase.

Last season, Ranieri was in charge of Nantes. The 67-year-old left at the end of the campaign after finishing ninth in Ligue 1.

James Benge of the Evening Standard and ESPN FC's Liam Twomey believe Fulham can turn things around under Ranieri:

James Benge @jamesbenge

Fulham have the quality of players to turn this around and thrive in the league, their hope will have to be Ranieri builds an atmosphere in which they feel they can express themselves and thrive.

Liam Twomey @liam_twomey

Fulham have top-half talent but badly lack tactical cohesion. Ranieri should give them that. A better choice than the standard panic appointments #ffc

The Times' Oliver Kay is less convinced:

Oliver Kay @OliverKayTimes

Odd thing re Ranieri is that, despite perhaps the greatest managerial feat in the modern era at #LCFC, his record over past decade and more is not great when you look at the clubs he's managed. Should improve Fulham, but maybe not quite the "risk-free" appointment Khan suggests

The Cottagers will be banking on Ranieri sparking an immediate improvement to get them off the foot of the table.

Fortunately for Fulham, despite their poor start to the campaign, they're not yet adrift. They're just four points behind Newcastle United in 14th place.

They're only three behind upcoming opponents Southampton, who are above Cardiff in the drop zone only by virtue of goal difference.

Saints haven't won a match since September 1, so Fulham's home game against them on November 24 will be a prime opportunity to start climbing the table.