Saturday 24 March 2018

Demarai Gray insists Claudio Ranieri still has backing of Leicester squad

Claudio Ranieri has found himself under pressure just months after winning the Premier League title
Claudio Ranieri has found himself under pressure just months after winning the Premier League title

Leicester winger Demarai Gray insists the Foxes are still behind boss Claudio Ranieri despite their season unravelling.

The champions' title defence is in tatters and they are just a point above the Premier League relegation zone.

Sunday's 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United was their fourth straight top flight loss without scoring and Leicester are yet to net in 2017.

Kasper Schmeichel branded their season "embarrassing" following the game while reports have suggested dressing room unrest despite last year's improbable title win.

But Gray says the squad remain united with Ranieri, who led them to the Premier League crown last May despite being 5,000-1 outsiders.

"Yeah, of course," he said. "We're all together, we're all behind each other. We have to back each other in the changing room.

"We'll stay together, get back on the training ground, work on what we need to and keep doing our best on the weekends."

Leicester go to fellow strugglers Swansea on Sunday with the hosts only below them on goal difference and just two points separating the bottom six teams.

One of the Foxes' five wins this term - although they are yet to triumph away - came against Swansea in August and Gray knows how vital the game at the Liberty Stadium is.

"It's massive. The lads have already said we understand how big that game is," said the England Under-21 international.

"We know we're a good team and it just hasn't worked for us yet. We haven't got going.

"We get a game plan, stick to the game plan and hopefully we get the points."

On Sunday goals in the space of 88 seconds just before half-time from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic put United in control before Juan Mata scored just after the break.

The Foxes, who host Derby in an FA Cup fourth round replay on Wednesday, have won just twice in their last 14 league games and Gray conceded confidence is an issue.

"I think it's been a little bit of a problem with us this season," he said.

"Once we conceded it kind of knocks us back, but it is one of them ones where we have to take the defeat and just keep pushing on now."

Leicester defender Danny Simpson has placed huge importance on Wednesday's cup replay.

The Foxes drew 2-2 at Pride Park last month and the Rams head to the King Power Stadium eighth in the Sky Bet Championship.

"Sunday is big, I get that, but I want to play Wednesday - we need a win," the right-back said. "I know it is not the league but we need a win. Maybe Wednesday can help with our confidence. It is a big game.

"I don't think you should write it off because of what is going on in the league. It is a football match, and you want to win matches. United are a good team, but maybe Wednesday is what we need at home against Derby to kick us on."

The 30-year-old admitted the Foxes have found this season harder than expected, but agreed with Gray they are behind Ranieri.

He said: "Because of our situation, that is the papers trying to stir the pot. Look at the performance (on Sunday). Up until 42 minutes we were solid, we were good, everyone was fighting. You can see from the performance on the pitch the lads are trying, and that is that.

"We knew it wasn't going to be like last season but it is tougher than we thought. The good thing is we have been here (in a relegation fight) before, we have been here two years ago.

"The majority of the squad were here two years ago. In that respect we have experience in that. The players who were here then can help some of the other lads through, and we will pull together."

Press Association

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