Sport Soccer

Friday 24 January 2020

Claudio Ranieri bids to banish second nature as Leicester push for the title

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, pictured, replaced Nigel Pearson at the King Power Stadium last summer
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, pictured, replaced Nigel Pearson at the King Power Stadium last summer

Claudio Ranieri admits to always being the bridesmaid as he finally looks to become Leicester's bride.

The Foxes manager has never won a top-flight title after finishing second with Chelsea, Roma, Juventus and Monaco.

Leicester host Swansea on Sunday and sit five points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League with just four games left.

They could win the title with victory at Manchester United next Saturday if results go for them, with Tottenham hosting West Brom on Monday.

It would also be the Foxes' first top-flight crown as Ranieri tries to claim the first major league title of his 30-year managerial career.

"I know there are people out there who, if I don't win the title, will say, 'Ah Ranieri, he always comes second'," said the Italian, who was runner-up to Arsenal with Chelsea in 2004.

"But look at my career. Look at it. I was second at Chelsea but we had started to build a team during the previous year.

"I continued to buy people during the first matches during the Premier League and Champions League. We came second.

"At Roma, I was second. What more can I do. I arrived after two matches. We had zero points and we finished with 80 points. (Winners) Inter had 82. What can I do? I lost but what more could I do?

"I arrived at Juventus the first year after Serie B. We were third, then second. What more could I do. I had four or five champions but others were young players.

"With Monaco we won the second division. Then we finished behind Paris St Germain, second by eight points. Now I try to win this.

"I won't be happy if we finish second. What can I do? We are doing a fantastic job here."

Jamie Vardy is banned for the Swansea game after his dismissal in last week's 2-2 draw with West Ham following a second yellow card for diving.

He could face a further ban depending on the outcome of a Football Association hearing which will take place ahead of next Saturday's trip to Old Trafford, after accepting a charge of improper conduct concerning his reaction to referee Jon Moss as he left the pitch.

Victory for Leicester over Swansea would put them eight points clear and pile the pressure on Spurs, but Ranieri is remaining calm.

He said: "The pressure is always at the top. They have been behind all year. I'm not bothered. I would love to stay five points ahead."

PA Media

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