Thursday 27 October 2016

Mum's the word for Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri as the title approaches

Published 01/05/2016 | 21:56

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri's priority on the day they could win the Premier League is a lunch date with his mother
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri's priority on the day they could win the Premier League is a lunch date with his mother

Claudio Ranieri admits he will be the last person to know if Leicester are crowned champions on Monday because he will be returning from lunch with his 96-year-old mother in Italy.

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The Foxes boss was due to travel to his homeland on Sunday evening, with his return flight at exactly the same time as Tottenham's trip to Chelsea.

Leicester could not take their first chance to clinch the Premier League title, drawing 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford, but they will be crowned champions if Spurs fail to win at Stamford Bridge.

Ranieri said: "Tomorrow night I am on a flight. Now I go back to Italy and I come back at the same time of the match. I will be the last man to know the result.

"I want to meet my mother. She is 96 years old and I'd like to go to have lunch with her."

Leicester fans travelled to Old Trafford in their thousands in hope and expectation, and the atmosphere reflected the magnitude of the occasion.

Wes Morgan's header cancelled out Anthony Martial's early goal, opening up the possibility of Leicester winning the title before their next match at home to Everton.

Ranieri insisted he would be delighted if Monday's result pushed them over the line, saying : " I want to win, it is not important when, believe me. "

The Italian admitted his side were blown away to start with but praised their response in the absence of suspended top scorer Jamie Vardy.

Ranieri said: "I am so happy because we drew against a fantastic Manchester United. They play so well. At the beginning it was amazing.

"We suffer a lot because they press so high. Without Vardy it was difficult for us to stretch the defensive line.

"But I am very pleased with our composure, performance. After the goal we keep calm and we score a goal. After that we got a lot of confidence and we played better.

"After that it was another match. They can score, we can score. At the end it is a draw. I am very happy."

Ranieri will continue to keep his players' feet on the ground as Leicester prepares for a party the city could never have envisaged.

"I know in the city there are fireworks, all the city is blue, but we must continue to concentrate without listening to those fireworks," said Ranieri. "We have to stay on the pitch and think there will be another tough match."

United boss Louis van Gaal was left with mixed feelings, hailing his side's performance but admitting the result leaves them needing help from others to finish in the top four.

The Dutchman said: "The start was unbelievably good, the first 25 minutes was fantastic to see, but then Leicester came more in the match. It is logical, they are the future champions, not for nothing.

"I have said to my players that I have seen one of the best matches of the season of my line-up I think, but it was not enough.

"The first goal is a fantastic goal but it is 1-1 and I have said we have to win every game so now already we are not closing the gap.

"It is dependent on City because Arsenal has won, so that is a big gap for three matches. You can do it but it shall be very difficult."

United midfielder Marouane Fellaini could be in hot water after being caught on camera elbowing Robert Huth.

But Van Gaal argued United should have had a penalty after Huth pulled Fellaini's hair and called the Belgian's response a natural reaction.

Asked if he expected Fellaini to face a ban, Van Gaal said: " Then I expect first that Huth shall be getting a lot (of matches) because I don't think that is normal what he is doing. What Fellaini is doing is reacting like a human being."

The Dutchman added on the BBC: "Only in sex masochism. Then it is allowed."

Press Association

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