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Friday 9 December 2016

Claudio clear on Foxes' future

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri wants to ensure the Foxes’ strong showing in the Premier League this season won’t be just a one-off. Photo: PA
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri wants to ensure the Foxes’ strong showing in the Premier League this season won’t be just a one-off. Photo: PA

Claudio Ranieri is determined to prevent Leicester's successful season from being a one-off despite saying the Foxes are 'having a strange year'.

Leicester have been installed as Premier League title favourites after opening up a five-point gap at the top following last weekend's 3-1 victory at Manchester City.

Ranieri's side face another huge test of their title credentials at third-placed Arsenal on Sunday, but the veteran Italian says his aims have not changed since his summer appointment at the King Power Stadium.

"When I signed, our objective was clear - to build this team, gradually bringing it to the top spots," Ranieri said.

"We know we're having a strange year, we're doing well because the big teams haven't found their rhythm, but our plans won't change next year beyond what happens at the end of this season.

"We must continue to build to target, in the next three or four years, the top spots in the Premier League and fighting for the Europa League.

"If we do all this in advance in one year we mustn't applaud ourselves, next year we'll start again from scratch."

Asked about comparisons with the success of smaller clubs in Italy, Ranieri replied: "Are we like Foggia, Chievo and Empoli? It's a similar story for the feelings it provokes, but there isn't much of a comparison with the three Italian teams from a strictly football point of view.

"Foggia, Chievo and Empoli were built over time, while we were born immediately."

Leicester only just survived relegation last season after an incredible finish in which they won seven of their closing nine matches under previous manager Nigel Pearson.

The 64-year-old Ranieri was a surprise choice to succeed Pearson following his ill-fated short spell in charge of the Greece national team.

But Leicester have lost only twice in the Premier League and in Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, who have scored 32 Premier League goals between them, possess two of the players of the season.

"This year Mahrez has given us incredible magic," Ranieri said. "Technically I don't know who he resembles, he has immense quality and is our reference point: when we need to create, we give the ball to him.

"Vardy on the other hand has a unique characteristic, he runs at 1,000 miles an hour and always at the same speed."

Ranieri, the former Chelsea, Juventus and Roma boss, also praised goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who has been ever-present in the Leicester defence. "Schmeichel has a big personality, he gives security to the team," Ranieri added.

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