Ranieri stays cool as Foxes start slow

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri passing instructions to striker Jamie Vardy in their season opener against Hull. Vardy has yet to find the net this season, but Ranieri is confident he can eventually work well with new strike partner Ahmed Musa.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri passing instructions to striker Jamie Vardy in their season opener against Hull. Vardy has yet to find the net this season, but Ranieri is confident he can eventually work well with new strike partner Ahmed Musa.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Leicester City have yet to hit the heights that saw them defy all odds to win the Premier League last season. However, manager Claudio Ranieri is confident it will not be long before new signings bed in alongside his established stars at the club.

The Foxes began the defence of their shock title with a surprise 2-1 defeat by newly-promoted Hull City, but there were signs of their old form during last week's goalless draw with Arsenal.

Ranieri will be hoping to see his side kick on at home to Swansea City today.

Ahmed Musa, the £16.5 million (S$29.5 million) club-record signing, has shown just flashes of the talent that convinced Leicester to buy him from CSKA Moscow, while last season's leading scorer, Jamie Vardy, has yet to find the net.

Ranieri, though, is confident that the pair can prosper both individually and as a strike duo.

"They connect well," the Italian manager said. "It is important that Musa understands how we play because the Russian league is very different from English football.

"They play at a slower tempo. The English league is very fast. In the last 10 minutes last week, he played very well and created lot of chances for us. He must increase his fitness and understanding. He can play together with Vardy.

"We bought Musa because he can play wide, behind the striker as well. It's a good choice for me during the match."

While Leicester have just last week's single point to show after their first two games, Ranieri insists he is not concerned, and believes that maintaining last season's thrilling form was always going to be a difficult task.

"It's not so stressful," he said. "It's good to get points - we're at home and we want to win. But it will be a different game from last season.

"Last season, everything we did was fantastic. This season, we have to fight a lot to score and win the match."

Pre-season signing Nampalys Mendy and winger Jeffrey Schlupp will be sidelined by injuries this week but both are expected to return after the forthcoming international break.

Swansea have one win and one defeat from their two league games so far this season, with their own reshaped squad bedding down.

"We have to play a courageous game against a very good team," said Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin. "Leicester are a strong team - they are almost the same as last season."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2016, with the headline 'Ranieri stays cool as Foxes start slow'. Print Edition | Subscribe