Arsene Wenger, Leonardo Jardim and Andre Villas-Boas turned down the chance to manage Fulham before they appointed Claudio Ranieri.
Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked on Wednesday morning with Fulham bottom of the Premier League, after six successive defeats, despite spending almost £100million in the summer transfer market.
The sacking is the first this season made by a Premier League club and could lead to other departures.
Such a dramatic move can lead to a domino effect.
Mark Hughes, the manager of Fulham’s next opponents, Southampton would appear to be particularly under pressure not least because of the upheaval at the top of the club where vice-chairman Les Reed has been sacked.
In their statement confirming Ranieri’s appointment, Fulham said they had considered and spoken to a number of candidates.
The Daily Telegraph revealed this morning that the Whites made overtures to Wenger and Jardim, who recently left Monaco after winning the French title two years ago when he also led them to the Champions League semi-finals and is being considered by a number Premier League clubs, and former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas.
It is understood that all three managers politely declined the opportunity to speak to Fulham.
Wenger is determined that he will not manage another Premier League club, having left Arsenal at the end of last season, and is waiting for the right opportunity abroad. Bayern Munich, should they sack Niko Kovac, would be of interest to Wenger.
In their statement on Ranieri, Fulham wrote: “Khan said he and his son Tony Khan, Vice Chairman and Director of Football Operations at FFC, considered and spoke with a number of potential candidates within the past week, with Ranieri becoming their mutual and obvious choice.
Tony Khan and his staff will continue to oversee First Team player recruitment and contractual agreements, and he will work closely with Ranieri.”
Fulham described appointing Ranieri, who led Leicester City to the Premier League title in 2016 but left French club Nantes by mutual consent after one season in charge in the summer, as “risk-free”.
The 67-year-old has been given an unspecified “multi-year” contract.
After Southampton Ranieri has fixtures against two of his former clubs Chelsea and Leicester.
Jokanovic, a former midfielder, was also Ranieri’s first signing when he was in charge of Chelsea in 2000.
Ranieri spoke of his ambition for his new job: “The objective of Fulham should never be to merely survive in the Premier League.
We must at all times be a difficult opponent and should expect to succeed.
This Fulham squad has exceptional talent that is contrary to its position in the table. I know this team is very capable of better performances.”
Fulham will hope so and believe so.
Twelve players were signed in the summer – with five arriving on deadline day alone – following Fulham’s promotion via the Championship play-offs as the club’s transfer record was smashed more than once.
The club lost five loan players and also defender Ryan Fredericks, who was out-of-contract, but the scale of the recruitment has not helped in the transition to the top-flight.
There is also doubt as to how many of the signings were actually wanted by Jokanovic, who had certainly pushed for Aleksandar Mitrovic’s loan deal to be made permanent, as it was, but also had three first-choice goalkeepers at the start of the campaign.
As well as Marcus Bettinelli, Fulham signed Fabri from Besiktas, who started the season in goal, and also Sergio Rico on loan from Sevilla.
Even this early into the season all three have been used in the Premier League which sums up the confusion around the team and selection.
Jokanovic has also chopped and changed his line-ups, most noticeably his defence, and although there was an improved performance, albeit again in defeat, against Liverpool at the weekend the decision to sack him was clearly taken after the damaging loss away to relegation rivals Huddersfield Town the previous Monday.
Jokanovic’s future has been in doubt for some time while the fact that the Serb did not agree a new contract over the summer, despite negotiations, and was therefore in the final year of his deal always made him more vulnerable despite the excellent job he did in gaining promotion with an exciting brand of football.
Recently Khan had responded angrily to claims that Jokanovic was facing the sack, writing in his programme notes ahead of the fixture against Bournemouth: “As for the sensational and fictional headlines related to Slavisa this week, I’m equal parts amused, astonished and disappointed. I ask you not to believe everything you read. Or, in this case, don’t believe anything you read.”
That has now proved to be an embarrassment for Khan who said of Ranieri’s appointment: “Making a change without having the right answer or succession plan was not an option, so having someone of Claudio’s calibre ready to accept our challenge was comforting but, most of all, essential.
“Claudio is risk-free and ready-made for the Premier League, and particularly so for what we need at this moment at Fulham.
His recent body of work with Leicester City is literally legendary, and then you look at Claudio’s experience with Chelsea and big clubs throughout Europe, and it’s pretty evident we are welcoming an extraordinary football man to Fulham Football Club.”