Juventus have fired coach Claudio Ranieri, saying a shake-up was the only way to salvage what's left of a disappointing season in which the Turin club has gone winless in its last seven games.
|Claudio Ranieri is victim of his team's poor form [AFP]
The team announced it was replacing Ranieri with Ciro Ferrara, a former Juve defender and current coach of the club's youth side.
General Manager Jean-Claude Blanc said the club hoped the change would spur the players to at least pull out a third-place finish in the Serie A and "give them the possibility of changing our future.''
Juve drew 2-2 at home Sunday with Atalanta, leaving the Turin side three points behind second-placed AC Milan with two games left. Inter Milan has clinched the Serie A title.
"We absolutely have to do something different,'' Blanc said.
"We wanted to give a strong shake-up and now it's all in the hands of the players.''
Ferrara said he welcomed the pressure.
"I'm not afraid to confront this particular moment,'' he told a press conference with Blanc.
"I don't look back, and I want to assume the responsibilities that I'll have for the next 15 days.''
Ferrara, 42, is expected to remain as coach only until the end of the season, though Blanc suggested Juventus may have longer-term plans for him.
He said that Ferrara has "all the qualities to be considered with a lot of attention for the future,'' though he stressed that the performance in the final two games would be critical.
Media speculation that Ranieri would be replaced had been mounting for weeks.
Poor run of results
Juventus has not won since March, picking up six draws and a defeat in its last seven games.
It lost to Chelsea in the first knockout round of the Champions League and fell in the semifinals of the Italian Cup to eventual champion Lazio.
The winless streak in the Serie A has left Juventus only one point clear of Fiorentina in the race for third place, the last one to guarantee direct entry into the Champions League draw.
Ranieri, a former Chelsea manager, took over at Juventus two years ago just as the club had been promoted back to Serie A after a season in the lower division as punishment for its role in a match-fixing scandal.
Ranieri's first season was seen as a success as the team qualified for the Champions League. This year, Juve remained in contention for the league title until about midseason.
Ferrara played 500 games in Serie A, about half with Juve between 1994 and 2005.
He was an assistant to Marcello Lippi, the World-Cup winning coach who is back at the helm of the national team.