Saturday 20 January 2018

Old master urges Shakespeare to take centre stage after show-stealing audition

Craig Shakespeare says his old Leicester boss Nigel Pearson told him to ‘go for it’ when the Foxes job became available. Photo: PA Wire
Craig Shakespeare says his old Leicester boss Nigel Pearson told him to ‘go for it’ when the Foxes job became available. Photo: PA Wire

John Percy

Craig Shakespeare is on such a remarkable streak of results that on Friday, he was being asked for his prediction for the Grand National.

Shakespeare is enjoying a comfortable ride in football management since replacing Claudio Ranieri, already writing his name into Premier League history, and will match Pep Guardiola if he secures his sixth successive league win, at Everton today.

The former No 2 to Nigel Pearson and Ranieri is on the brink of achieving his survival mission and in the box seat to be named Leicester City's manager for next season, with talks scheduled for next month. He established his reputation alongside Pearson, who was sacked in June 2015, weeks after Leicester scrambled to safety. And ahead of the trip to Goodison Park, Shakespeare revealed he had been advised to take the job by Pearson if it is offered to him this summer.

"I'm not in regular contact because half the time Nigel is up a mountain or he's on his bike somewhere in the hills and there's no phone reception. But we've spoken a couple of times and he has told me to go for it," he said.

"It would have felt awkward replacing him, if it had been straight after [the sacking]. But with the time frame and everything considered, I'm sure it didn't feel awkward on both our parts.

"I think I can do the job and it doesn't faze me. There's different things to it, like do I think I'm better as an assistant than a first-team manager? Those are the questions that I ask myself. I try and make sure that I review my own performance, as well as the players'."

There are clear signs of an impending appointment, with Shakespeare involved in discussions over player recruitment. On Wednesday, he will take the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid, arguably the biggest game in the club's 133-year history. "If I said I wasn't enjoying the job, you'd think I was a right strange one with the results that I've had," he said. "I really don't get carried away too much and I know that in the run we've been on, there could easily have been a couple of defeats in there."

Ranieri, meanwhile, will make his first television appearance in England since his dismissal on Sky Sports tomorrow night. The 65-year-old will appear in the studio for the Crystal Palace v Arsenal game, and sources claim there is no 'gagging order' following his shock exit.


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