Why midlands football is no Italian job
This is not a good time to be an Italian manager at a midlands football club.
The dismissal of Claudio Ranieri by Leicester on Thursday night made him the third Italian from the region to lose his job this season, with Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola also under pressure after a dreadful start to his reign at St Andrew's.
Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is reportedly not interested in taking over Leicester, and after looking at the difficulties faced by his compatriots below, who could blame him?
ROBERTO DI MATTEO - ASTON VILLA
RECORD: P 12 W 1 D 7 L 4
A former Champions League-winning manager with Chelsea, Di Matteo was given the task of turning around the mess at Villa Park. He had worked similar magic before when he instantly elevated West Brom back to the top flight after their demotion in 2009, so hopes were high he could do it again. Yet Di Matteo found life considerably tougher in this role and he won just once before being axed at the start of October, only 124 days after assuming the post.
WALTER ZENGA - WOLVES
RECORD: P 17 W 6 D 4 L 7
It was a huge surprise when Wolves' ambitious new Chinese owners opted to replace Kenny Jackett with the former Italy goalkeeper when they arrived in the summer. It started so well for 'The Zenga Boys' as they opened the new campaign with a six-game unbeaten streak but after just two wins in the next 11, Zenga was gone just 87 days on from his appointment.
CLAUDIO RANIERI - LEICESTER
RECORD: P 37 W 11 D 8 L 18
Having led the Foxes to the most unlikely of title triumphs last season, Ranieri started his second season with plenty of goodwill as he led them into the Champions League. A drop-off was expected but seeing the club struggling near the drop-zone prompted the owners to make the shock decision to part ways with their championship-winning boss, who had just taken charge of his team in the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition too.
GIANFRANCO ZOLA - BIRMINGHAM
RECORD: P 14 W 1 D 4 L 9
It was every bit as surprising when Birmingham axed Gary Rowett in favour of ex-Chelsea forward Zola back in December. Having worked on a limited budget, Rowett had guided Blues to two top-half finishes and they were seventh when he departed. In 14 games since, Zola has won just a solitary encounter and appears to be skating on thin ice with the team now hovering in lower mid-table in the Championship.