Foxes’ split per­son­al­ity irks man­ager Ranieri

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

LE­ICES­TER CITY man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri urged his side to take their fine Euro­pean form into the Pre­mier League af­ter they closed on a place in the Cham­pi­ons League last 16.

Riyad Mahrez’s goal earned Le­ices­ter a 1-0 win over FC Copen­hagen yes­ter­day, ex­tend­ing their 100% record in Group G and leav­ing them one win away from the knock­out phase.

But the English cham­pi­ons are toil­ing do­mes­ti­cally, hav­ing lost four and won just two of their first eight fix­tures, and Ranieri wants Le­ices­ter to get rid of their split per­son­al­ity.

“For one side, I’m very proud. For the other side, when I think of the Pre­mier League, I’m very, very an­gry,” the Ital­ian told re­porters at the King Power Sta­dium.

“But it’s OK, be­cause also in my ca­reer this has hap­pened. When for the first time you go and play in a big com­pe­ti­tion, you lose some­thing when you go back in your league.

“You spend a lot of en­ergy, men­tal en­ergy, in the Cham­pi­ons League. When you come back a lit­tle more down, it’s nor­mal.

“But we want to change this mood now, be­cause the Pre­mier League is now im­por­tant. The Pre­mier League is our pri­or­ity.

“But of course also the Cham­pi­ons League be­cause now, in one month, three matches, we’re in or out. We are in a good po­si­tion. Our des­tiny is in our hands. We want to con­tinue this way.”

Mahrez struck in the 40th minute, vol­ley­ing home with the out­side of his left foot af­ter Jamie Vardy’s deep cross from the left had been headed back across goal by Is­lam Sli­mani.

It was a per­for­mance in keep­ing with Le­ices­ter’s 5,000-1 League ti­tle suc­cess last sea­son, with Copen­hagen see­ing 54% of pos­ses­sion and reg­is­ter­ing four shots on tar­get to the hosts’ two. But Le­ices­ter’s 100% record was only pre­served thanks to a last-minute save by their Copen­hagen-born goal­keeper Kasper Sch­me­ichel, who bat­ted away a closerange An­dreas Cor­nelius shot. Le­ices­ter are now as­sured of at least a place in the Europa League and they can seal a place in the Cham­pi­ons League last 16 if they win the re­turn fix­ture in Copen­hagen on Nov 2. Dan­ish cham­pi­ons Copen­hagen had pre­vi­ously gone 23 games with­out de­feat, stretch­ing back to last sea­son, but they re­main in sec­ond place in the group, five points be­low Le­ices­ter.

“I can live with that,” said Copen­hagen coach Stale Sol­bakken on the end of his team’s un­beaten run.

“We can start count­ing again. That doesn’t bother me, re­ally. The im­por­tant thing for us now is to get back and fo­cus on the league.

“Le­ices­ter come on Nov 2. Hope­fully we can do a sim­i­lar per­for­mance. We have our fans be­hind us and maybe that can be the dif­fer­ence. We very rarely lose in Parken (Sta­dium).”

He added: “You can al­ways fear the game in Porto (where Copen­hagen drew 1-1) was a one­off in a dif­fi­cult away game.

“But now we’ve met the two favourites in the group away and we could have had three points, we could have had zero. They’ve been very close, both games.

“The play­ers have a good feel­ing we can beat them in Parken in 14 days. We’re still No. 2 in the group.

“I’m very happy Porto beat Brugge (in the other group game) be­cause for us it’s eas­ier to win the UEFA Cup (Europa League) than the Cham­pi­ons League!” – AFP

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