Infighting in the ranks as Ranieri staves off sack rumours

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri's relationship with his players is understood to have deteriorated during a woeful run of form.
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri's relationship with his players is understood to have deteriorated during a woeful run of form.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Claudio Ranieri was promised that he would not be sacked by Leicester City before the end of the season in talks with the club's owner after their fifth straight league defeat on Sunday.

The Leicester manager spoke to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after the champions lost 0-2 away to Swansea City, leaving them two points off the bottom of the Premier League table in 17th.

Ranieri's relationship with his players is understood to have deteriorated during a woeful run of form.

Leicester are the first reigning champions to go six games without scoring and are without an away league win all season.

Some members of the squad have reservations about aspects of his intense training methods and a perceived lack of days off.

But the club have made it clear that they would take a dim view of players approaching them asking for the manager to be changed.

Other players feel that he has been too lenient in allowing them to enjoy themselves too much away from football when he should have been more of a disciplinarian.

In addition, there is friction in the dressing room between the players who won the title and those who were signed in the summer over wages, quality and form.

NEVER FORGET LAST SEASON

I'd give him a job for life, whatever happens, but this is football, and the owners ultimately decide.

GARY LINEKER, former Leicester and England striker, believes Claudio Ranieri should be given time to turn things around.

Ranieri admitted after the defeat by Swansea that he may have been too loyal to the players who delivered the shock Premier League title last season.

The owner also believes that the blame for the slump should be shouldered by the squad.

Ranieri plans to make changes to his defence with Christian Fuchs, Wes Morgan and Robert Huth likely to be dropped for the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Millwall on Saturday.

Leicester travel to Sevilla for their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash four days after facing third-tier Millwall. Ranieri will also have an eye on their next league game against Liverpool on Feb 27.

Captain Morgan admitted that the players held talks last week, but there was little reaction on the pitch.

"We had a big week this week talking, trying to put things right and trying to build the team spirit so we can get ourselves out of this mess," he said. "We will remain positive and focused. We still have games to get results."

Former England and Leicester striker Gary Lineker said that he would give Ranieri "a job for life" at Leicester and believes the Italian should not be sacked even if the Foxes are relegated.

"Even if they went down, personally I think it would leave a bad taste in the mouth to get rid of him, after what he did and the way he handled everything (last season)," said the BT Sport pundit.

"I'd find it terribly sad. I'd give him a job for life, whatever happens, but this is football, and the owners ultimately decide."

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'Infighting in the ranks as Ranieri staves off sack rumours'. Print Edition | Subscribe