Ranieri prepares for big battle next season

LONDON • Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has told his players to expect the full force of the Premier League's leading clubs when they attempt to defend their fairy-tale title next season.

Leicester concluded their astonishing campaign on Sunday with a 1-1 draw at deposed champions Chelsea, which left the 5,000-1 outsiders 10 points clear at the top of the standings.

It was an accurate reflection of their relentless consistency and the failings of the traditional elite.

But, with doubly determined domestic opposition to contend with in 2016-17, as well as Champions League football, Ranieri knows that, come August, Leicester will be marked men.

"We know if there is a fairy-tale next season, it will be no nightmare, but it's different next season," the jovial Italian told his post-match press conference.

"We know very well we are fighting between 10, 11 (teams) to the high positions. I am sure all the big teams will go back. We continue to fight. That is our destiny."

He added: "The Champions League will be a good experience for all my players. It will be a very good atmosphere, with the music. I hope we are ready. Not to listen to the music, but to do some music."

Ranieri experimented with a 4-1-4-1 system against Chelsea but he reverted to his usual 4-4-2 formation at half-time and revealed afterwards that he intends to begin next season "with the same shape".

The team will depart for a post-season trip to Thailand, home country of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, today.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Ranieri prepares for big battle next season'. Print Edition | Subscribe