Leicester - Leicester City manager Claudio
Ranieri said he was still refusing to look at the Premier League table despite
his team re-establishing a five-point lead by beating Newcastle United 1-0.
Shinji Okazaki's stunning 25th-minute
overhead bicycle kick gave Leicester a hard-earned 1-0 win at the King Power
Stadium on Monday and left them needing 20 points from their final eight games
to complete one of the most improbable title triumphs in the history of
But while teams like Arsenal and Manchester
City continue to flounder in their slipstream, Ranieri was insistent that
neither he nor his players are allowing themselves to think about the title.
"I don't look at the table. I look at
the next match -- Crystal Palace," he told his post-match press
"It's difficult. We want to enjoy, we
want to continue. Of course our fans are dreaming, are so proud of us. We must
He added: "Never we speak about the
title. Every time we speak about our performance, how we enjoy the football and
helping our team-mates. I'm very proud when I say everyone helps each
Okazaki's goal, a textbook overhead volley
from Jamie Vardy's knock-down, took the Japan striker's tally to six goals for
the campaign, but Ranieri made a point of praising his all-round contribution.
"I'm not pleased now because he scored
a goal -- I'm so pleased with Shinji because he's part of the team and he works
so hard every time," he said.
"He scored a goal tonight (Monday),
but Shinji has made a fantastic job during all the season. It was a good goal,
a fantastic goal."
Leicester's last three wins, against
Norwich City, Watford and Newcastle, have all come by a 1-0 score line and
Ranieri was heartened by the gritty attitude shown by his players.
"I know very well we played better
maybe against Aston Villa or West Bromwich, but we drew both these
matches," he said.
"We played well and we achieved just
one point. We played our match (against Newcastle), a tough match, very
concentrated, and we won - three points.
"At this point of the season, the
points are important, not how you play."
With new manager Rafael Benitez furiously
orchestrating his charges from the edge of his technical area, Newcastle
produced an improved display and Ranieri said that he had not been surprised by
"I was sure it would be this kind of
match," said the Italian, who, like Benitez, counts Napoli, Valencia,
Chelsea and Inter Milan among his former clubs.
"Their players showed Rafa their
attitude and the Newcastle players are very good. I am sure that they will be
It was a fourth successive loss for
Newcastle, but Benitez underlined the "positives" from his side's
battling display, which he identified as their "passion" and
He now faces a pivotal pair of fixtures
against fellow strugglers, with Sunday's derby at home to Sunderland followed
by a trip to Norwich City, and he urged the supporters to throw their weight
behind the team.
"We know our next game against
Sunderland is a derby and it will be important for everyone, but I have a
feeling the fans are really good and they are the number 12 for the next
game," said the former Liverpool manager, who replaced the sacked Steve
McClaren on Friday.
"We have plenty of things to do and
they need to rest and work hard. I like the people, the staff, the fans and
everyone is behind the club.
"Everything is positive, but now we
have to give them what they want on the pitch."
He added: "The players have to play
without anxiety, because then they will make more mistakes.
"They have to play with great commitment,
like today, but they have to use their brains and try and play good