Wednesday 13 December 2017

Claudio Ranieri ready to navigate circling sharks after vote of confidence

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri was given a vote of confidence by the club's Thai owners
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri was given a vote of confidence by the club's Thai owners

Claudio Ranieri believes he can lead Leicester to calmer waters as the "sharks" begin to circle.

The under-pressure boss yesterday received a vote of confidence from the club's Thai owners, who pledged their "unwavering support" for Ranieri amid a woeful defence of their Premier League title.

The Italian, whose team are just one point above the drop zone after Sunday's 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United, says the public backing was more for the benefit of the media, who he described as "sharks".

Reports also surfaced recently that Ranieri has been losing his grip on the dressing room after confusing players with tactics and team selection, but Ranieri insists everything is normal.

"Now there are a lot of sharks, and I am on the windsurfer," he told a number of national newspapers ahead of the Foxes' FA Cup fourth-round replay with Derby. "I accept this. This is our life.

"Last season was a fairytale, this season is not a fairytale. But it is okay. Now it is important to be positive without bad, bad words.

"It is the same as last season. I speak the same s**** English and they understand me. It's important that they understand me. We try to do our best but this season everything is wrong but we are still fighting and that is my strength.

"That is important for me to see how they speak together, how they speak with me to try to improve some situations, what we are doing well and not doing well. We speak every time about what we need to improve and it's okay, with all my staff and everybody.

"I say to my players, 'My door is always open'. Sometimes I come to them and sometimes they come to me. It's a fantastic relationship. They understand everything well. I think this [club statement] is for you, not for me, because I know the idea of the chairman of the club and everybody."

It seems Ranieri's achievements last season have ensured the Italian has the support of the club's owners, despite winning only five league games this season.

The statement said: "In light of recent speculation, Leicester City Football Club would like to make absolutely clear its unwavering support for its first team manager Claudio Ranieri.

"While there is a collective appreciation from everyone at the club that recent form needs to improve, the unprecedented success achieved in recent seasons has been based firmly on stability, togetherness and determination to overcome even the greatest of challenges.

"The entire club is, and will remain, united behind its manager and behind its players, collectively and firmly focussed on the challenges ahead.''

At the weekend Leicester travel to Swansea - the team directly below them in the table - but more immediately the Foxes face Championship promotion hopefuls Derby in an FA Cup replay on Wednesday night.

Ranieri must decide whether to make changes to his team with Sunday's crucial clash at the Liberty Stadium looming large, possibly sacrificing a place in the fifth round and the chance to build some much-needed momentum.

"Derby are a big team and move the ball very well, it will be tough," said Ranieri. "I have to protect some players who need to recover and rest. Also, I want to give the opportunity to the other players."

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