Scott Parker has been left to pick up the reins at relegation-threatened Fulham following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri as manager.
Parker, the former Cottagers captain, was placed in caretaker charge on Thursday as Ranieri’s reign was terminated after just three months with the club 19th in the Premier League.
Ranieri, appointed after the sacking of Slavisa Jokanovic in November, paid the price for a dismal run of form that saw him oversee just three wins in 16 league games.
It is a remarkable fall from grace for the Italian, who masterminded Leicester’s remarkable title triumph in 2016.
Chairman Shad Khan said in a statement: “Claudio Ranieri agreed to my decision that a change was in the best interest of everyone. Claudio’s tenure at Fulham didn’t produce the outcome we anticipated and needed when I appointed him.”
First-team coach Parker takes over with the team 10 points adrift of safety with 10 games remaining. His first task is a testing derby against one of his former clubs, Chelsea, on Sunday.
His thoughts on the size of the challenge may become clear on Friday with the club due to hold a press conference to preview this weekend’s encounter.
Khan added: “Scott’s immediate assignment is merely to help us stabilise, grow and rediscover ourselves as a football club. If Scott can answer that challenge, and our players respond to the opportunity, perhaps victories will follow in the months ahead.”
Khan’s statement suggests former England midfielder Parker, 38, could be given until the end of the season in the role. Bookmakers believe he could be one of the names in the frame to take the position on a long-term basis but David Moyes, David Wagner and Claude Puel are also among the early favourites.
Former Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, who is currently in charge at Crystal Palace, has been surprised by the turn of events at his old club.
Hodgson, speaking at the London Football Awards, said: “I find it sad after as little as two or three months he has been shown the door by Fulham. It disappoints me Fulham, a club I really like, I have so much time for, have found it necessary to make this quite controversial decision.”
Former Arsenal and England defender Lee Dixon, however, felt the parting of the ways was inevitable.
“He didn’t look like he was particularly enjoying it,” said Dixon at the same event, which supports charity Willow.
“He looked like he’d lost a little bit of his energy and I think that can filter through to the team. I think it was only a matter of time.”