Italian Serie A team Juventus fired manager Claudio Ranieri with only two games to go in the season and replaced him with former player Ciro Ferrara. Juventus is only a point in front of fourth-place Fiorentina and could still miss out on the automatic Champions League berth for next year after going winless in their last seven league games.
Ranieri took over from Didier Deschamps in 2007 when the Turin team was promoted back to Serie A after being demoted to the second division for match-fixing. Club chief executive Jean Claude Blanc said Ferrara’s appointment is for the last two games of the year.
“The next two games are our future,” Blanc said at a news conference. “It is not our style, but we cannot miss out on Europe. We wanted to shock the players so they’d take the right path with the right man at the right moment.”
Juventus finished in third place last season and beat Spanish side Real Madrid home and away in the Champions League, but their winless streak has shown no signs of ending. They are currently three points behind second-placed AC Milan.
Over in England, Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic said he was surprised to be named the club’s player of the year by his team mates and the club’s fans. The 27-year-old Serbian international won both awards for his fine play alongside Rio Ferdinand in the centre of United’s defence this season.
Vidic, who moved to United from Spartak Moscow three years ago, has been an important figure in Manchester’s Premier League triumph and their run to the Champions League final.
“It’s a great night for me,” he said on Manchester United TV. “It has been a really good year. I am surprised I got it but I have really enjoyed it.”
Vidic also chipped in with a few goals this year and scored the opening goal in United’s 2-0 second-round second-leg win over Inter Milan in the Champions League.
“To be honest I don’t have so many individual awards,” Vidic added. “That’s why I am a bit confused and my speech is not the best. Next time my speech will be a bit better.”
Meanwhile, United keeper Ben Foster will be out of action for the next nine weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured ligament in his thumb. This means he will certainly miss the Champion League Final against Barcelona in Rome on May 27.
The 26-year-old will also miss the last match of the season against Hull City, along with England’s World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan, and Andorra on June 6th and 10th.
Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was scheduled to start against Barcelona on May 27 anyway, but Foster hoped to be on the bench for the cup final.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson stated: “It is big blow for Ben as not only will he miss the Champions League final but also England’s summer internationals. Ben has tried to continue the season with this injury but it got so critical that an operation was the only way forward.”
Foster has been injury prone at United since being loaned out twice to Watford. He has also had major knee surgery and has only appeared in nine games for United this season. His biggest match was in the penalty shoot-out win against Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup final.
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