Ferrara had admited his time was probably up at struggling Juve [GALLO/GETTY]
Ciro Ferrara's unhappy reign as Juventus coach has come to an end, before Sunday's Serie A home clash against Lazio.

Ferrara has been sacked by Juventus management and replaced with Alberto Zaccheroni.

Ferrara's position had looked increasingly untenable in recent weeks as his side slipped to sixth in the Italian standings after losing five of their last six league games.

Zaccheroni led AC Milan to Italy's Serie A title in 1999 and has also coached Inter Milan, Lazio and Udinese in the top Italian league.

The 56-year-old Zaccheroni has been out of coaching since getting fired by Torino in February 2007 and Juve may have hired him only to complete the season before possibly going after Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez.

Realistic

The former Italy and Juventus defender Ferrara, who was handed the job despite his lack of experience just before the end of last season when Claudio Ranieri was fired, had accepted his time in charge may be up.

"This experience will be useful for me in the future," he told a  press conference.

"Six months at Juve are worth 10 years elsewhere. When, and if, someone says something (about my position) I'll accept it serenely.

"Even if the club bring in another coach, I'll always be grateful to them."

Some commentators  used the term "dead coach walking" to describe Ferrara's situation ahead of Thursday's Italian Cup quarter-final at league leaders Inter Milan, which they lost 2-1.

That followed a loss to AS Roma in Serie A last weekend, with Juve allowing late goals on both occasions.

"We have failed on our season goal,'' Juventus president Jean-Claude Blanc said after the game.

"It is very upsetting. Everyone knows the situation and tomorrow we will make our decision known.''

Zaccheroni was selected ahead of Claudio Gentile, the former Juventus player and Italy under-21 coach.

The 42-year-old Ferrara began his first Serie A coaching job by replacing Claudio Ranieri on an interim basis for the final two games of last season.

He led Juventus to two wins and was then named permanent coach in June.

Strong start

Serie A fixtures

Saturday January 30

 Bari v Palermo
 Napoli v Genoa

Sunday January 31

 AC Milan v Livorno
 Cagliari v Fiorentina
 Catania v Udinese
 Chievo v Bologna
 Juventus v Lazio
 Parma v Inter Milan
 Roma v Siena
 Sampdoria v Atalanta

Juventus opened this season with four wins - with newly signed Brazil playmaker Diego scoring twice in a convincing 3-1 win over AS Roma in the second week - but then began to struggle in both the league and Europe.

A 4-1 home loss to Bayern Munich in December eliminated Juventus from the Champions League in devastating fashion and the team has continually slipped down the Serie A standings, now lying 16 points behind leaders Inter.

Goalkeeper Buffon was not seeking excuses.

"If there is a firing it would be a failure for us players,'' Buffon said after the Inter loss.

"Juve is represented by the players and the club, so nobody is extraneous to blame.''

While Juventus still hold the record with 27 Serie A titles, they have not officially won the "scudetto'' since 2002-03, when Ferrara was winding down an 11-year stint as a defender for the Bianconeri.

Juventus were stripped of the 2004-05 and 2005-06 titles in the wake of the Italian match-fixing scandal.

Zaccheroni will have to cope without a long list of injured players, including forward David Trezeguet and Italy winger Mauro Camoranesi, while keeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Fabio Grosso are suspended.

Source: Agencies