Former Leicester City Manager Claudio Ranieri, center, in the stands during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Burnley at the King Power stadium, Leicester, England. Saturday Nov. 10 2018 (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

Fulham hires Claudio Ranieri after firing Jokanovic

November 14, 2018 - 4:57 am
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LONDON (AP) — Claudio Ranieri is back in the Premier League with Fulham, two years after overcoming 5,000-1 odds to win the title with Leicester.

The 67-year-old Italian coach was hired Wednesday by Fulham, which announced the firing of Slavisa Jokanovic at the same time. The London club is in last place in the league.

"The objective at Fulham should never be to merely survive in the Premier League," Ranieri said in a statement. "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."

Jokanovic led Fulham back into the Premier League after a four-year absence but the team has only one win and five points from 12 matches.

Fulham, which is owned by American billionaire Shad Khan, next plays Southampton on Nov. 24.

"Making a change without having the right answer or succession plan was not an option, so having someone of Claudio's caliber ready to accept our challenge was comforting but, most of all, essential," said Khan, who also owns the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Claudio is risk-free and ready-made for the Premier League, and particularly so for what we need at this moment at Fulham."

Fulham said Khan and his son Tony, who is vice chairman, spoke to coaching candidates over the last week before Ranieri emerged as the "mutual and obvious choice."

Ranieri had previously coached in London at Chelsea from 2000-04. He was fired by Leicester in 2017, nine months after leading to the team to its first-ever English title.

"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," Khan said, "and it's pretty evident we are welcoming an extraordinary football man to Fulham."

Ranieri's last job ended in May, leaving Nantes halfway through a two-year contract with the French club. Ranieri won't have complete control at Fulham, which said Tony Khan will continue to oversee transfers and player contracts as director of football operations.

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