-CLAUDIO RANIERI: TITLE IS NOW OR NEVER FOR LEICESTER
– Friendship and handwork are keys to Leicester’s success
– Leicester can cope without Vardy
– Allays fear he could lose top players in the summer
CLAUDIO RANIERI: TITLE IS NOW OR NEVER FOR LEICESTER
Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri believes it is “now or never” for the Foxes to win the Premier League title.
Leicester’s fairy-tale and record breaking season has already seen them secure top three finish and champions league football for next season. Leicester leads the premier league table with 5 points above second placed Tottenham.
With Champions league football already guaranteed, and Ranieri has finally admitted Leicester’s focus is now on winning the title.
Speaking to Dan Roan of BBC sports, Ranieri said “It is this year or never more. We achieved the Champions League – a great achievement for everyone but now we try to win the title with all our strength, all our heart, our soul, everything. We need eight points and we are champions, and we try to do this. I said to my players that now is the right moment to push.”
However, Sir Clive Woodward, former England rugby team coach, has critised Ranieri for admitting the title potentials of Leicester.
He reportedly tweeted that he felt Ranieri had made a “big error” in talking about the title. “Never speak about anything but your next game, next game is all that you ever talk about, players will be listening,” he tweeted.
Despite Tottenham closing the gap on Leicester having won their most recent games 3-0 and 4-0 against Manchester united and Stoke respectively.
Ranieri has insisted he and his players were not feeling the pressure, the BBC has reported. He said: “When I managed in Italy, you can’t believe the kind of pressure you have there. It’s not pressure here. I enjoy here.”
Banner depicting Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri as The Godfather
Ranieri has however attributed the team success so far to hard work. though strange the achievement is, he has refused to describe it a miracle.
“This is something in special circumstances and that is why I say ‘now or never more’, because next season will be different. The big teams will be stronger and better but of course we are doing something special this season.”
However, the 64-year-old says he is not concerned with what a title win will mean for him personally, rather he is doing all for the fans.
“I am glad when I see the people happy,” he said. “Football is a show. I believe if we win a match people go back home happy to their family. They go back to work happy – that is good for me.
“From the beginning, the fans came with me with their heart and started to sing some songs with me from the beginning. That was good.
“I know there were some people said ‘why Ranieri?’ but the fans were always behind me. They were happy.”
In the wake of Vardy’s suspension, Ranieri has said Leicester is not all about Vardy. He has said that Leicester will cope without him.
The 29-year-old had confronted referee Jon Moss after being sent off in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with West Ham.
Ranieri added: “Without him I don’t have another Vardy, but without him I believe we can do something special.”
Asked if he was worried that some of his star players could be tempted to move elsewhere in the summer, Ranieri added: “No, I believe they want to follow us.
“They want to play in the Champions League next season. Here they are the king, if they go to another side they don’t know what could happen.
“If somebody is not happy with us because another good team want them, then I don’t worry. I prefer happy people with me.”
Ranieri believes the close bond the players share has been key to the club’s success so far this season.
“There’s no secret,” he said. “There are circumstances. This team has had fantastic circumstances throughout all the season. The big teams, no, they had some fantastic matches and then slowed down.
“When I was a player [at Catanzaro] they were a team and it was unique. We were together for 14 years with eight or nine of my team-mates. We were very friendly and Leicester are the same.
“The players are friends, they play for each other and help each other – that is one of our keys”, Ranieri concluded.