Ranieri de­mands more from Mahrez

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Clau­dio Ranieri has told Al­ge­ria winger Riyad Mahrez he needs to pro­vide more graft and guile as Le­ices­ter try to pull away from the rel­e­ga­tion fight. Ranieri’s strug­gling cham­pi­ons slumped to a 2-0 de­feat against Ever­ton on Mon­day which kept them just three points above the Premier League’s bot­tom three.

And al­though Ranieri was with­out sus­pended striker Jamie Vardy, Mahrez, last sea­son’s PFA Player of the Year, didn’t even make the start­ing line-up at the King Power Sta­dium. It was a far cry from last term when ev­ery­thing Mahrez touched turned to gold dur­ing Le­ices­ter’s fairy­tale ti­tle tri­umph. Ranieri ex­plained the winger’s omis­sion by demanding he give more for the Le­ices­ter cause. “Be­cause he’s not in good form now and I wanted to stim­u­late him,” Ranieri said when asked why he was left out. “I didn’t see him do well dur­ing the train­ing ses­sions and he must give more for the team. I want more.”

Le­ices­ter face a re­ju­ve­nated West Ham on Satur­day with ten­sions ris­ing around the King Power Sta­dium. Ranieri had pre­dicted a tough cam­paign back in Septem­ber, al­though the real­ity of a rel­e­ga­tion dog­fight is bit­ing hard.

“If you re­mem­ber well, I think three months ago, I told ev­ery­body we are in the bat­tle but I want to fight and I want to stay very con­cen­trated on the lit­tle de­tails,” he said. “The lit­tle de­tails are like the first goal, to re­act early.”

Ranieri will have been dis­mayed by the man­ner of Ever­ton’s goals, scored by Kevin Mi­ral­las and Romelu Lukaku.

Mi­ral­las’ strike was es­pe­cially bad as it came from a huge punt up field from goal­keeper Joel Robles which put the Bel­gian striker clear of the two cen­tre-backs. Three touches is all it took and the ball de­flected into the net off Marcin Wasilewski. “We re­acted a lit­tle late from the long kick but that is foot­ball,” Ranieri said.

In con­trast, Ever­ton boss Ron­ald Koeman was full of Christ­mas cheer as he hailed the de­fen­sive spirit of his team in their first away win since Septem­ber.

“The team or­gan­i­sa­tion de­fen­sively was out­stand­ing,” Koeman said. “Maybe they had one chance with a free header but it was not re­ally a big chance. “Idrissa Gu­eye (had) a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to kill the game and fi­nally Romelu did but it was im­por­tant also to have a clean sheet for con­fi­dence. We showed the ag­gres­sion in the per­for­mance that we want.”

As for the rather di­rect na­ture of the goals, Koeman ex­plained it had all been worked out on the train­ing pitch. “We like to play from the back but if the op­po­nent is press­ing then we don’t take risks,” he said.

“Fi­nally in the last part of the sec­ond half they did more press­ing and then you need to play the long ball and you need to push up and you need to fight for sec­ond balls. “I think we won a lot of bat­tles in the sec­ond half which was good and then you make it very dif­fi­cult.” — AFP

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