ROME, January 29 – Ciro Ferrara's troubled reign as Juventus coach could end this weekend, even before Sunday's Serie A home clash against Lazio.Ferrara’s position has looked increasingly untenable in recent weeks as his side have slipped to sixth in the standings after losing five of their last six league games.
They have also been knocked out of the Champions League and exited the Italian Cup.
Some commentators even used the term "dead coach walking" to describe his situation ahead of Thursday’s Italian Cup quarter-final at league leaders Inter Milan, which they lost 2-1.
The former Italy and Juventus defender, who was handed the job despite his lack of experience just before the end of last season when Claudio Ranieri was fired, has accepted his time in charge may be up.
"This experience will be useful for me in the future," he told a press conference.
"Six months at Juve are worth 10 years elsewhere. When, and if, someone says something (about my position) I’ll accept it serenely. Even if the club bring in another coach, I’ll always be grateful to them."
Former Italy Under 21 coach Claudio Gentile is the favourite to take over until the end of the season, when the Turin giants reportedly hope to lure Rafael Benitez from Liverpool.
Whoever is in charge on Sunday will have to cope without a long list of injured players, including forward David Trezeguet and Italy winger Mauro Camoranesi, while keeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Fabio Grosso are suspended.
Lazio are also in the doldrums after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Chievo left the Roman club just two points above the relegation zone in 15th.
It is a big change from the build-up to the early-season fixture between the sides after two league games, when they both had perfect records before a match that Juve won 2-0.
Second-placed AC Milan are looking for a response against Livorno on Sunday after their title ambitions suffered a massive blow with last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Inter.
They also went out of the Italian Cup with a 1-0 loss to Udinese on Wednesday.
Brazil forward Pato is still unavailable with a thigh problem while influential centre back Alessandro Nesta, badly missed against Inter, is fighting to shake off a leg muscle strain.
Struggling Livorno will visit the San Siro under Serse Cosmi, who made peace with club president Aldo Spinelli on Tuesday having resigned as coach after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by Napoli.
But they cannot count on first-choice goalkeeper Alfonso De Lucia and Brazilian midfielder Mozart because of suspensions.
Inter, who are nine points clear after having played one game more than their city rivals, will be without Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder and Brazil defender Lucio at Parma on Sunday after their red cards in the derby.
But coach Jose Mourinho may be able to field Samuel Eto’o, who has returned from the Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon, if an ankle knock is not too bad.
AS Roma, who are two points behind Milan in third, face Siena at home on Sunday.
Fourth-placed Napoli, who, like Roma, are in excellent form, entertain Genoa on Saturday with fifth-placed Palermo visiting Bari earlier that day.
Fiorentina, who have slipped down to ninth after some poor recent performances, are unlikely to be able to field Adrian Mutu at Cagliari after it was announced on Thursday that the Romania striker had failed a drugs test.
Bari v Palermo, Napoli v Genoa
AC Milan v Livorno, Cagliari v Fiorentina, Catania v Udinese, Chievo v Bologna, Juventus v Lazio, Parma v Inter Milan, Roma v Siena, Sampdoria v Atalanta