Friday 21 October 2016

Jamie Vardy has thrived in limelight claims Claudio Ranieri

Published 27/11/2015 | 15:36

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Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri believes Jamie Vardy has thrived under the spotlight during his record goal chase.

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England striker Vardy will set a new Barclays Premier League record if he scores in his 11th straight game on Saturday.

Leicester host Manchester United, a point ahead of United at the top of the table, with Vardy having equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy's 10-game scoring record in last week's 3-0 win over Newcastle.

The focus has been on Vardy during his remarkable run and Ranieri feels it has been ideal for the 28-year-old.

He said: "I think it's good Jamie has this - maybe all his team-mates will try to help him. But the main idea is the team. After there is Jamie, there is me and everybody - the team.

"I hope for him and (the) fans he gets the record - but sooner or later someone will break the record. I hope for Jamie he does it.

"He's the same (this week). We have a very good spirit, we know on Saturday there will be a very good challenger for us. It's great for us to improve."

United have the best defence in the top flight having conceded just nine goals but have come under fire for a lack of attacking flair.

But Ranieri reckons boss Louis van Gaal will get it right at Old Trafford and they have already improved under him.

He said: "Van Gaal has played (managed) a lot of fantastic teams, I remember I watched his training sessions at Ajax long time ago when we were young. I remember playing him at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He is a fantastic manager. My respect for him is very big.

"Slowly, slowly they are getting better, building, he'll get it right. Look at difference from last season, they are improving all time. His defensive line is fantastic, it is very difficult to break their lines."

Louis van Gaal expects Vardy will be a "nasty" problem for Manchester United.

If his performance against United last year is anything to go by, he will have little trouble rewriting the history books.

The 28-year-old scored one and had a hand in the other four goals in Leicester's 5-3 win over Van Gaal's team 14 months ago.

United's defence has improved greatly since then, but Van Gaal is aware of the threat Vardy will pose to his team.

Van Gaal described Vardy as a ''nasty'' and ''great'' player who he also likened to former Arsenal and Ajax great Dennis Bergkamp.

''He was last season a very nasty player for us,'' the United manager said.

''He scored, won a penalty, and now he is scoring 10 games in a row, then you are a great player.

''I only know Dennis Bergkamp as a player who did the same with Ajax. It's not so easy to do that.''

When asked whether he would consider signing Vardy, Van Gaal gave a terse reply, saying: ''That is not your business, I think.''

There was little will from Van Gaal to discuss last year's eight-goal thriller, in which United held a two-goal lead twice.

''I don't want to remember that game especially, because of the result but also the way we lost wasn't good,'' Van Gaal said.

The Dutchman was more forthcoming when asked about Leicester's title chances, however.

Van Gaal believes the league leaders, who are one point above United, are capable of sustaining their title challenge until the end of the campaign.

''It is possible, I think,'' Van Gaal said.

''Normally these kind of clubs can be a long time competing, but normally at the end it's more difficult.

''But in England because of the quality of the teams, because every team has the money to buy players - and they have bought players - the difference in the Premier League between the clubs in level is not so high.''

United recovered from the defeat at Leicester to qualify for the Champions League last term, but expectations have grown since.

Despite being second in the table after 13 matches, some United fans are unhappy with the style of football being played under Van Gaal.

Dissenting voices were heard again on Wednesday when United put their Champions League last 16 place in jeopardy with a 0-0 draw in their penultimate group game against PSV Eindhoven.

When asked whether he was worried about criticism from supporters, Van Gaal said: ''Of course, because the fans have to be happy, you are playing for the fans so you cannot deny that.

''But also you have to see how our opponents are playing against us, and when you see how they play, you know the difficulty of organising against that type of opponent.

''We are still not lucky in finishing the chances. We are creating chances, and when we are not creating, then maybe I am worried.

''But we are not giving much away. That is why we are second in the league and in our Champions League group.''

Van Gaal will be without Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia for Saturday's game.

Press Association

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