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May 18, 2009

Ranieri sacked by Juventus

Claudio Ranieri has been sacked as manager of Juventus and will be replaced by Ciro Ferrara for at least the last two games of the Serie A season.

The Blanconeri are just one point above fourth-placed Fiorentina and are in danger of slipping out of an automatic Champions League berth after a run of seven league games without a win.

Ranieri succeeded Didier Deschamps in 2007 after the Turin club were promoted back to the top flight following their demotion for match-fixing, however the 57-year-old failed to end Inter Milan's Serie A dominance and Sunday's 2-2 home draw with Atalanta proved to be the final straw for the board.

Club chief executive Jean Claude Blanc said Ferrara's appointment was initially for the last two games of the season.

"The next two games are our future," Blanc told a news conference. "It is not our style (to sack someone) but we cannot miss out on Europe. We wanted to shock the players so they'd take the right path with the right man at the right moment."

Ferrara, a legendary centre-back for Juventus, is also assistant to Italy coach and ex-Juve boss Marcello Lippi but has never managed a club before.

"The players must rediscover their pride and the right motivation. I want to thank those who believed that I could be useful in this moment, I appreciate it a lot," said Ferrara, who won seven Italian championships and the Champions League in 1996 as a Juve player.

"He is already a talisman for us and has nothing to prove," said Blanc of Ferrara.

Juventus finished third last season and made a decent start to this term, beating Real Madrid home and away in the Champions League, but the recent bad run has shown no signs of ending.

Juventus had been Inter Milan's main challengers for the title but are now three points below second-placed AC Milan. They bravely lost to Chelsea in the Champions League last 16, their first European campaign since their demotion, and were beaten by Lazio in the Italian Cup semi-finals.

Ranieri had not been popular with fans for several weeks and recently left top striker Alessandro Del Piero out of the team.

Apart from forward Amauri, Juve's purchases under Ranieri have generally disappointed with midfielders Tiago and Christian Poulsen especially struggling.

Italy's most successful domestic club, with 27 league titles, are in the process of buying Werder Bremen's Brazilian playmaker Diego and re-signing Real Madrid and Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro for next season.

Media reports have said former Juve midfielder Antonio Conte, who has led Bari to promotion to Serie A this season, is among the frontrunners to take over fulltime if Ferrara's appointment remains temporary. AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti and Gian Piero Gasperini, who has said he is staying as Genoa manager, have also been linked with the job.

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