Ranieri unfazed by bad times for stumbling Foxes

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri.
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Claudio Ranieri's hopes of restoring the Premier League champions' solidity on the road? Gone in 33 seconds on Saturday.

That was how long it took Etienne Capoue to open the scoring for Watford, who quickly increased their lead thanks to a lovely goal by Roberto Pereyra.

Riyad Mahrez converted a penalty for Leicester City but they could not avert a fifth defeat from six Premier League away matches this season following their 1-2 loss.

Add that to the fact that they lost their year-long unbeaten home league record in their last match at the King Power and Leicester's title defence is beginning to bear an uncomfortable resemblance to a struggle against relegation.

After 12 matches, they are two points above the bottom three.

Leicester will confirm progression to the knockout stages of the Champions League if they beat Club Brugge tomorrow.

However, their domestic troubles recall a different kind of history - Manchester City's class of 1938 are the only English champions to have been relegated the year after winning the title.

Manager Ranieri admitted that Leicester are going through a bad period but insisted there is no problem with the spirit of his side.

"It's just a bad period now. This period shows how big was last season. That's it," the Italian said.

"Now we are in 2016-17 and we have to react, stay stronger and concentrate from the beginning of the match every time.

"But I'm very pleased with our performance. The spirit of the team is fantastic. I'm proud."

For Watford manager Walter Mazzarri, the win was the perfect response to the 6-1 defeat by Liverpool last time out.

"I'm happy to win. It doesn't matter that they were the champions of England. I'm happy because the team played as I like," he said.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2016, with the headline 'Ranieri unfazed by bad times for stumbling Foxes'. Print Edition | Subscribe