Mancini at short odds to become next Leicester manager

Roberto Mancini gestures during the Italian Serie A football match. File Photo: AFP

Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is the bookmakers' favourite to replace compatriot Claudio Ranieri as Leicester City manager after the Italian was sacked by the Premier League champions on Thursday.

British bookmaker Sky Bet was offering odds of 6/4 on Mancini taking over relegation-threatened Leicester, while William Hill had the 2011-12 Premier League-winning coach at 13/8 as of 0520 GMT on Friday.

Mancini, who left Inter Milan last August, won the Premier League with City in 2012.

Former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson is second-favourite for the job, with Alan Pardew, Guus Hiddink, Neil Lennon, Frank de Boer and Gary Rowett the other leading contenders.

The affable Ranieri is a hugely popular figure after leading 5,000-1 outsiders Leicester to the title last season, even though the team is currently just a point and a place above the relegation zone.

In England, well-known soccer pundits were quick to criticise his dismissal, with former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher calling it an "absolute joke".

"I think a lot of people wouldn't have wanted to see Leicester go down with Ranieri as the manager but I think a lot of that sympathy will go now," Carragher told Sky Sports.

"They were everyone's second team but that's well gone now... I'm devastated for him. A lot of questions have got to be asked of the owners and of the players.

"I think they should have a statue of him there and I think they should start that in the morning."

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who was sacked by Chelsea in Dec. 2015, less than a year after winning the title, posted a message of support for Ranieri on Instagram.

"Champion of England and FIFA Manager of the Year. Sacked. That's the new football, Claudio. Keep smiling AMICO (friend). Nobody can delete the history you wrote," said Mourinho, whose last game in charge of Chelsea ended in defeat by soon-to-be champions Leicester.