Ranieri says, he has given Leicester players too many chances


LONDON, Feb 13: Claudio Ranieri has said he has been too loyal to the players that led Leicester City to the Premier League title last season and admitted that he was guilty of giving them too many chances to turn around a season that is in danger of ending in relegation to the Championship.

In what was in effect a warning to his players that he was ready to make sweeping changes on the back of a fifth successive league defeat that leaves them one point and one place above the relegation zone, Ranieri accepted that it was time for drastic action. “Of course I must change something because it is not possible to continue in this way,” said Ranieri, after Leicester were beaten 2-0 by a resurgent Swansea City side.

Asked whether he had shown too much faith in the players who pulled off a sporting miracle by winning the title as 5,000-1 outsiders, Ranieri replied: “I could be, could be. It is difficult when you achieve something so good you want to give them one chance, two chances, three chances. Maybe now it is too much.”

With an awkward trip to Millwall in the FA Cup fifth round up next on Saturday followed by a Champions League last-16 first leg tie at Sevilla four days later, life does not get any easier for Leicester and it will be interesting to see which players Ranieri decides have used up all their lives. Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy are among those that the Leicester manager has stood by so far.

It is clear that confidence among the entire squad is on the floor, with Leicester never recovering from the two goals they conceded shortly before the interval against Swansea. Alfie Mawson got the first with a superb volley that flashed beyond Kasper Schmeichel and Martin Olsson scored the second when he beat the Leicester keeper at his near post at the end of a fine move.

“I wanted the start of a ‘new season’ today but it is the same, it is unbelievable,” Ranieri said. “We started well but their first two shots on goal are goals, it is very difficult to come back from that. It is unbelievable this season. We have two problems. Conceding goals, and not scoring. We have to speak together to find the solutions, it is not possible to continue in this way. The machine is not broken but when you don’t play at a maximum level it is a difficult battle. They were more determined than us, that’s the truth. We stay together, we work very well in training but we need a little luck to move our confidence. I am very strong, very confident. I believe in everything.

“Every time I speak to the players and the players speak to me we are always confident we can change the situation. But now there are a few matches in front of us so we have to find a solution very, very soon. There are two matches in front of us, one in the FA Cup and one in the Champions League but our mind is on the Premier League.” Leicester are the first champions to lose five successive league matches since 1956 and Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the club’s owner, did not conceal his frustration as he watched from the stands. Ranieri, who received a vote of confidence from the club on Tuesday, remains convinced that he is the right man for the job.

“Yes,” he said, in response to a question about whether he retains belief in his own ability. “I always question myself but I always say: ‘Come on, we can do something good.’”AGENCIES