Sport Soccer

Friday 23 February 2018

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri is looking over his shoulder after Watford defeat

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri knows his side's domestic performances after another Premier League defeat
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri knows his side's domestic performances after another Premier League defeat

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri says he is always looking over his shoulder and wary of the prospect of relegation.

Early in Leicester's phenomenal title success last term, Ranieri maintained his focus was on the 40-point mark many believe is necessary for Premier League survival.

After six losses in the opening 12 games - including a fifth away defeat at Watford on Saturday - the Foxes' target has to be preserving their top-flight status first and foremost.

Asked whether he was concerned by Leicester's league position, Ranieri said: "Worried? No. But last season I was always watching behind me. Also this season I'm watching behind me.

"The relegation is very close to us and we have to react.

"I expected difficulties (this season), but not so strong. I expected some more points.

"That's normal after a team like Leicester win the title. Now we have to be compact, continue to work hard, because there is only one medicine - work hard and be together."

Despite their domestic travails, Leicester can advance to the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday night by avoiding defeat against Club Brugge in Group G. The Foxes won 3-0 in Belgium earlier in the campaign.

Islam Slimani (groin) and Leonardo Ulloa (back) missed the Watford game, but could be back to face Brugge.

And Ranieri reckons the Premier League predicament will improve, so long as Leicester stay positive and work hard.

He added: "This is very strange, but that is real. We have to be calm, be strong.

"I told the players I'm very happy with our spirit, with our performance. Only the result is wrong.

"But with this spirit, sooner or later we'll get better."

Two goals in the first 13 minutes saw Watford prevail. Etienne Capoue netted after 33 seconds and Roberto Pereyra doubled the advantage after 13 minutes.

Riyad Mahrez replied with a penalty two minutes later after Jamie Vardy was felled, but Leicester struggled to create chances.

Ranieri defended Mahrez, but thinks the Algerian must adapt after receiving close attention from numerous defenders.

"These kind of players some matches are fantastic, some matches are normal," Ranieri added.

"Every time Riyad gets the ball he tries to do something special.

"Also the opponent is very careful when he receives the ball, always three opponents close to him. That is normal.

"In Champions League he plays well and he's trying to do his best in the Premier League.

"I try to say to him play simple, but sometimes he also has to take responsibility to do something for the team, because he's our quality player."

Press Association

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