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 By Ben Gladwell

Bortolo Mutti surprised to replace Christian Panucci at Livorno

Bortolo Mutti, Christian Panucci
Bortolo Mutti worked with Christian Panucci at Palermo in the 2011-12 season.

Bortolo Mutti says he was surprised to be asked to take over at Italian Serie B club Livorno after Christian Panucci was dismissed on Wednesday.

Panucci paid the price for his side's poor recent form, which culminated in a 1-0 defeat to Bari at the weekend.

He will be replaced by Mutti, who has been out of work for almost two years, since being fired by Padova in February 2014.

"The call was unexpected," Mutti, 61, said. "I thought it was a call just to sound me out to see if I might be available, but the president wanted me to come here and accept this challenge straight away.

"You never turn Livorno down. They are an ambitious club with a project. I know the club, I like them and I've always admired them, and I was close to working here a few years back. The president has told me to work in peace and quiet and try to do the best I can."

Livorno become the 17th club of Mutti's coaching career, which started back in 1988 and saw him work together with Panucci at Palermo in the 2011-12 season, although the Livorno job was Panucci's first as a head coach after also having assisted Fabio Capello with the Russia national team.

"I'd like to wish Panucci well," Mutti added. "I am here to do what I like doing the most."

Livorno are seventh in Serie B after 14 games of the season, with seven points separating them from an automatic promotion berth.

Panucci was shown the door after picking up just nine points in the last 10 games, although the 42-year-old said he did not see the axe falling.

"I'm really sorry because for all my qualities and defects, I always gave everything for the good of this club," Panucci told Il Tirreno. "This city and these fans entered into my heart and I will always be an Amaranto fan.

"I'd like to thank the club for giving me this opportunity of coaching such a prestigious club, and I send a hug to my lads and all the fans."

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