Leicester City coach Claudio Ranieri insists that his team must continue working hard for the English Premier League (EPL) title, despite being at the top of the table eight points clear of their nearest rival which is almost insurmountable at this stage of the season.
Winger Riyad Mahrez scored in the first half to give the Foxes a 1-0 triumph against Crystal Palace on Saturday. The result has put immense pressure on second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
“It’s not easy for us, we are Leicester. A team like United, City, Chelsea, five points or eight points clear and it would be finished. With us, no. We have to fight for every match,” Ranieri was quoted as saying by the EPL website.
“Now we’re in the Europa League and we’re very close to the Champions League. We have to stay calm and concentrated. The seven matches are open matches,” he added.
“Now we are at the home straight and I want to see how my horses run!”
Ranieri also said he was pleased with the efforts of all his players and added that they are a fantastic team.
“Of course, when I win I’m very happy, but when I win and we don’t play with this spirit, I’m not so happy,” he said.
“When we lost against Arsenal we lost in the last second but I was happy because we had a fantastic team.
“When I see this spirit, I’m very calm on the bench. The players were very focused, very concentrated.”
Despite their most unlikely title triumph inching closer, Ranieri says he would not consider a failure to lift the trophy as a disappointment because of the way they have transformed themselves from relegation candidates into top-flight giant killers.
“I say to my players that everything is in our hands,” he said. “The others are not important — nobody is helping us. We have to do our job. If somebody goes above us, well done, they are the champions. If not, we continue to fight.
“Believe me, I’m very happy with this season. I remember the start of the season. The goal was ‘save the team’. Now everybody speaks about us, pushes us. If somebody is better than us, well done. We’ve made a fantastic achievement: Europa League, maybe Champions League.
“I feel it, also the fans who say ‘if I don’t win, I hope Leicester can’. They think Leicester play with heart, the right spirit to do something unbelievable. We have to be focused on our job,” Ranieri signed off.