Fulham today confirmed the appointment of Claudio Ranieri as manager, replacing Slavisa Jokanovic in the Craven Cottage hot seat, but sources close to FootballFanCast.com have told us it was Sam Allardyce who the Cottagers were initially lining up.
There had been huge optimism surrounding Craven Cottage before the season began following the club’s promotion back to the Premier League and a £100million investment in new players during the summer, but all that optimism and excitement has since turned to worry and disappointment.
Jokanovic – a fan favourite among fans of the west London club – was unable to arrest his side’s poor run of form in the opening 12 games of the Premier League season, with Fulham currently sitting bottom of the Premier League with the worst defensive record (31 goals conceded) in the division and without a win in nine.
So the decision to replace the Serb does not come as a surprise to anyone, although our sources have told us Fulham vice-chairman Tony Khan had initially met with former England boss Sam Allardyce twice before the club eventually decided to move for Claudio Ranieri.
Allardyce has been without a club since he left Everton at the end of last season and is widely expected to be the man a struggling Premier League club eventually turns to at some point this season. However, it appears Fulham decided to show a little bit more ambition by snubbing Allardyce and instead moving to secure the services of Premier League winning manager Ranieri instead.
Fulham’s decision not to appoint Sam Allardyce is a refreshing one given the amount of struggling Premier League teams who tend to turn to a survival expert like Big Sam in such turbulent times.
It is, however, the right move as they look to continue building on the great work Jokanovic had done at Craven Cottage in over two years in West London. Allardyce’s style is the complete opposite and Fulham fans, as well as the players, will have had to come to terms with a drastic change in playing style.
With Ranieri, Fulham can be confident he will not stray too far away from where they’re currently at while also overseeing an improvement in results.
Of course, Ranieri is the man who oversaw football’s greatest fairytale when he led 5000/1 outsiders Leicester City to the Premier League title in 15/16 and while a repeat of such wizardly is highly unlikely, Fulham fans should be delighted that it’s him at the helm and not Allardyce.
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We told you last month that Allardyce had been in talks with Leicester City about the possibility of replacing Claude Puel but that deal appears to be dead following the Foxes’ improved form and, of course, the tragic events surrounding the club in recent weeks.
And now with his route back in to Premier League management with Fulham scrapped, he returns to the waiting game. It won’t be long before another struggling Premier League club panics and sacks their manager and no doubt Allardyce will be throwing his name in the hat when that happens.
Southampton, Crystal Palace and perhaps even Burnley may be his next options should neither club fail to improve results in the coming weeks and months.