With Fulham announcing the sacking of manager Claudio Ranieri this afternoon, it seems as though the club is beginning to prepare for life back in the Championship. The Italian was appointed in November, coming in to replace Slavisa Jokanovic after a poor start to the season. It was hoped that the former Premier League winning manager would be able to turn around the fortunes of the club, as they were sitting bottom of the league with just five points from their first 12 games.
Unfortunately, his appointment did not bring about the upturn in performance that the board, and the fans, had been hoping for. After just three wins in his 17 games at the helm, and the club sitting in 19th place (10 points from safety following last night’s loss to Southampton), it seemed Ranieri’s tenure back in London was over as Fulham cut him loose.
At this time in the season, a team battling relegation firing their manager can be seen in one of two lights. They are either taking one last stab at revitalising the team in a push for survival, or they have accepted the impending relegation and are beginning to prepare for life back in the second tier of English football. We have seen similar things in the past, just look at Newcastle in 2016 or West Brom last year. Both teams fired their managers late in the season, however went on to make interim appointments rather than full term replacements.
Fulham already preparing for next season
Former captain Scott Parker will be filling the hot seat to the end of the season, it will be interesting to see how the The Cottagers perform for the rest of the year. There is, of course, still a mathematical chance of survival, however their next four fixtures come against; Chelsea, Leicester City (now a more worrying game with the appointment of Brendan Rodgers), Liverpool and Manchester City. It’ll certainly be a baptism by fire for Parker.
The board will now be looking ahead to next season, planning a way to bounce back from relegation and return to the Premier League at the first attempt. Last time the club was relegated from the top tier of English football, they spent four years in the Championship, not something the owners will wish to repeat this time around.
Fulham spent well in the summer, bringing in some great players that will either flourish in the Championship, or be available at a cut price deal to teams in the next window. However if they are able to keep the bulk of their squad together, and bring in a manager who knows the league and can motivate the team, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them return to the top flight for the 2020/21 season.