LONDON • Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare insisted he was "quite comfortable with my own conscience" after claims by Claudio Ranieri that an unnamed member of his backroom staff may have contributed to his sacking in February.
Ranieri's remarks that "somebody behind me" might have undermined him created an awkward backdrop for Shakespeare, the Italian's assistant last season, ahead of Leicester's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon Stadium this morning (Singapore time).
Shakespeare has guided the team away from the Premier League's relegation zone since taking charge but the former manager's words led to renewed questions about whether the man who won the most implausible title of the modern era had been stabbed in the back.
"From my first interview (since replacing him) I have said I spoke to him when he left and he thanked me for my time," Shakespeare said. "I thanked him and there has never been any falling out."
Pressed further, the Englishman indicated he did not think Ranieri sounded absolutely certain - "I think he said 'maybe'," he noted - but could not explain why he would say it if there was no truth to the allegation.
"We never had a falling out," he said. "I haven't seen the interview live but I think I have answered the question."
We never had a falling out. I haven't seen the interview live but I think I have answered the question.
CRAIG SHAKESPEARE, on the sacking of his predecessor, Claudio Ranieri.
Shakespeare was asked whether he would have preferred Ranieri to name who he meant and whether it would have been better if his first post-sacking interview with the English media had not taken place in the week of such an important game.
"Free speech is there for anybody," he said. "I don't have a problem with it."
There were problems for eight Leicester fans yesterday, however, after they were arrested for public disorder ahead of the match.
Three police officers and two fans suffered minor injuries in clashes between police and the travelling supporters in one of central Madrid's tourist hotspots on Tuesday night.
"Eight hooligans were arrested for public disorder and vandalism," a police spokesperson said.
Videos showed riot police charging at the Leicester fans in the Plaza Mayor.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE