Ranieri and Spalletti face crunch weeks

October 20, 2008

MILAN, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri and AS Roma boss Luciano Spalletti are gearing up for one of the most important weeks of their managerial careers after weekend defeats heaped further pressure on their shoulders.

Juve lost 2-1 at Napoli on Saturday to extend their winless run to five games ahead of Tuesday's Champions League game at home to Real Madrid and next Saturday's Turin derby with Torino.

Fans have become restless and club bosses have been forced to back Ranieri for a second time after giving him a vote of confidence earlier this month.

"You only give votes of confidence once. Ranieri has the confidence of the club. We are not getting into this again," Juve chief executive Jean-Claude Blanc told reporters.

Ranieri's side look a shadow of the team that finished third in Serie A last term in their first season back in the top flight following their 2006 demotion for match-fixing.

A raft of injuries to top players has not helped while media speculation that the club are sounding out alternative coaches will not go away despite the denials.

Injury-hit Roma, runners-up last season, were humbled 4-0 at home by champions Inter Milan on Sunday and have now lost four of their seven league games this season.

Club president Rosella Sensi, who is not averse to storming into the dressing room after defeats, sat stony-faced during the match and has no made no public comment backing Spalletti.

Wednesday's daunting trip to Chelsea in the Champions League and next Sunday's game at Serie A pacesetters Udinese do not come at the perfect time.

"When you are in a difficult moment, keeping it together becomes tough. If instead everything is calm in the standings, you score goals you don't expect," Spalletti told reporters.