English Premiership

Ranieri cools revenge talk

2016-03-18 16:30
Claudio Ranieri (TEAMtalk)

Cape Town - Claudio Ranieri insists leading Leicester to the most remarkable title triumph in Premier League history wouldn't serve as revenge on the critics who have questioned the Italian throughout his career.

No team in the Premier League era has failed to win the title from Leicester's position, with Ranieri's side sitting five points clear of second placed Tottenham ahead of Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace.

With just eight games left, Ranieri is within touching distance of proving wrong the doubters, the highest profile of whom was Roman Abramovich, who sacked the Italian as Chelsea manager in 2004 to make way for Jose Mourinho.

However, Ranieri has dismissed suggestions that a desire for revenge against Chelsea, who he led to second place behind Arsenal's title-winning 'Invincibles' in 2004, is fuelling his hunger for success.

The theory was ventured by former Chelsea and France star Marcel Desailly, who played under Ranieri at Stamford Bridge, but it was quickly rubbished by the Leicester boss.

"He is wrong. I want to win because I want to win, but not for revenge. I don't have revenge in my life," Ranieri said.

"I'm a very lucky man. I'm doing the job that I want to do and not too many people can do this. It is not for revenge. Revenge is stupid.

"You can talk about revenge when you lose to one team and you want revenge, but not this kind of revenge.

"Now we are very close to making the Europa League and it's important in the next two or three matches to continue in this way to be also in the Champions League.

"That would be a great achievement but I want to go back to my focus on Crystal Palace."

PROUD

Leicester's stunning season has sparked inevitable speculation about job offers from elsewhere for Ranieri, with suggestions that his contract contains a get-out clause.

But the 64-year-old says even the chance to succeed the departing Antonio Conte as Italy boss, a suggestion that has gained traction in the media in his homeland, wouldn't tempt him away from the King Power Stadium.

"No team can change my mind, definitely no," Ranieri said.

"Of course I am very proud if they are thinking of me in Italy or anywhere else. But this is my club.

"I want to stay here. If my owner is happy I stay here. There isn't another team – there is nothing that can change my mind."

Ranieri could be without midfielder Andy King due to illness at Selhurst Park but has no injury concerns.

Palace are seeking their first league win since December 19, a run that stands in stark contrast to their form in the FA Cup that has set up a semi-final meeting with Watford.

After a stunning first half of the season that prompted talk of securing a place in Europe next season, Palace's slide means their concern is now with maintaining the eight-point gap that separates them from the bottom three.

"I want us to be more consistent, to be an established Premier League team. For half of last term and half of this term we've done a brilliant job. But we've got 10 games to go and we can make a big impact," Palace manager Alan Pardew said.

"We really need to concentrate on the league and that's my message to my players. We need to get ourselves secure before the semifinal.

"That's on the back burner for now, I don't really want to hear about it from my group until that comes around.

"Of course we talk about our league form, we get it rammed down our throats by the media and quite rightly.

"We're in a really good place, our last six or seven of games have been a couple wins, couple of draws, couple of defeats."

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Stoke City v Huddersfield Town, Bet365 Stadium 17:00
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