Title pressure to test new managers, not me: Ranieri

Defender Wes Morgan with Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri on July 14. "To win (the EPL) is a dream," Ranieri said.
Defender Wes Morgan with Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri on July 14. "To win (the EPL) is a dream," Ranieri said.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri is not losing sleep over his team's Premier League title defence and believes the pressure to succeed is more on the new managers of the big-name clubs.

Under Ranieri, 5000-1 outsiders Leicester won their first-ever top-flight title last season, with Manchester United and Chelsea failing to secure Champions League qualification and Manchester City only just making the top four.

The 2016-17 season will see Jose Mourinho guiding Manchester United, Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Antonio Conte in charge of Chelsea.

"You imagine the big teams who didn't win, who didn't make the Champions League. They are going crazy now, they want to kill now. Not just us, but all the other teams," Ranieri told British media.

"They have new managers, fantastic managers. Antonio Conte is fantastic; Jose, everybody knows Jose. Pep Guardiola is an amazing person, good manager.

"I'm laughing because at the end only one will win. And the pressure is not on me, it's on them."

UPHILL TASK FOR RIVALS

I'm laughing because at the end only one will win. And the pressure is not on me, it's on them.

CLAUDIO RANIERI, Leicester coach on his new managerial adversaries.

"Leicester City? People are just curious. What will happen with Leicester? What can Leicester do next season? Repeat? To win is a dream."

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who played every game of Leicester's title-winning campaign, said the team remained equally hungry this season.

"I can assure you the hunger is 100 per cent still there. We have to go again, do exactly the same again and see where it takes us," Schmeichel told the BBC.

"We go out, we work hard for each other and do our best. If someone is not pulling their weight - which barely ever happens - then they will be told.

"Part of being a really good squad is the togetherness and being able to trust each other."

Leicester begin their title defence at Hull on Aug 13.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Title pressure to test new managers, not me: Ranieri'. Print Edition | Subscribe