Terming the ongoing season as a magical one, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has urged his team to do their best to clinch the English Premier League (EPL). Leicester beat Southampton 1-0 on Sunday to open up a seven-point lead at the top of the EPL table with six games remaining in the season. The ‘Foxes’ have seen a radical transformation in their fortunes as exactly a year ago, Leicester were seven points from safety near the bottom of the league table and battling relegation.
Leicester have won 20 of the 32 matches they have played so far and Ranieri wants the players to continue the momentum as he believes that it will be difficult to recapture this form next season.
“I’m very calm. We believe in what we are doing. We believe it’s a magical season. We believe next season it will not be the same and so we try to do our best,” Raneiri told the local media here on Sunday.
“We are dreaming. If we fight, we can do something and we must continue. It’s important to stay very calm and maintain our feet on the ground,” he added.
Leicester captain Wes Morgan headed home in the first half and the EPL leaders held on to extend their lead at the top of the table. The Jamaican defender played despite struggling with mild illness and Raneiri was all praise for the 32-year-old.
“Wes is fantastic. He didn’t have a holiday this season. He had the national team in July and he came back here, so I gave him some days off during the season because he needed them. But he came back on Friday. He had a cold, was tired, but he is a strong man and a good example for everybody. When he speaks, everyone listens to him. But everybody is a leader in my dressing room. Everybody knows what I want,” Raneiri said.
“Today, we have a clean sheet and I’m so happy. The chairman is happy. Tomorrow it will be his birthday and we sang ‘happy birthday’ to him before the match. I asked the players to give him a good present, three points,” the 64-year-old Italian added.
“Clean sheet, three points, step by step. It’s fantastic because we know very well Southampton came here with a lot of confidence.”
Before the current season, Leicester’s best-ever performance was finishing as runners-up in 1929. The last time they came anywhere close to making a challenge for the title was in 1963 when they finished fourth and were beaten in the FA Cup final.
“Look, we are very close to achieving the Champions League. That’s it. That’s it,” Raneiri said.
“Another two or three weeks, we’ll be in the Champions League. Sure. But whether the gap to second is six, five, one or seven points is not important. What is important is how we react, how we play. That’s what I want from them. When they give me everything, their heart and soul, I’m happy.”