The vice-chairman, Tony Khan, was at St Mary’s for a result that took Ranieri’s Premier League record at Fulham to P16 W3 D3 L10 since he replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in mid-November. The team are 10 points off Premier League safety with 10 games to play.
Shahid Khan, the Fulham chairman and Tony’s father, is in the US but he has been involved in discussions regarding Ranieri’s future, along with the club’s other key decision-makers, including the chief executive, Alistair Mackintosh, and the non-executive director Mark Lamping. Scott Parker, the first-team coach, has taken over on a caretaker basis.
Ranieri had been advertised as a “risk-free” appointment by Shahid Khan. Unhappy Fulham supporters unfurled a banner at Southampton that read: “Risk free? Are you watching Tony Khan?”
Shahid Khan said on Thursday: “Claudio Ranieri agreed to my decision that a change was in the best interest of everyone. No surprise to me, Claudio was a perfect gentleman, as always. Claudio’s tenure at Fulham didn’t produce the outcome we anticipated and needed when I appointed him as manager in November, but be assured he is not solely to blame for the position we are in today.
“Claudio walked into a difficult situation, inheriting a side that gained only one point in its prior eight matches, and he provided an immediate boost by leading our club to nine points in his first eight matches as manager. Though we were unable to maintain that pace thereafter, I am grateful for his effort. Claudio leaves Fulham as our friend and he will undoubtedly experience success again soon.”
Fulham won promotion from the Championship last season, via the play-offs, and Jokanovic oversaw a £100m spend on signings. Fulham’s next games are against two of Ranieri’s former clubs, Chelsea and Leicester, and thereafter they face Liverpool and Manchester City.
Ranieri said: “I am obviously disappointed with the recent results and that we could not build on the good start we made following my appointment. I would like to thank the club, the players and the fans for the support they have given me.”