West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Craig Shakespeare insisted Leicester City’s season is not at an end despite the champions reaching 40 points and so all but avoiding relegation from the Premier League.
Jamie Vardy’s goal secured a 1-0 win for the Foxes at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday that took them to 40 points — usually the benchmark tally for avoiding the drop from English football’s top flight.
Leicester had looked in danger of the drop when former assistant manager Shakespeare took over from sacked title-winning boss Claudio Ranieri in February.
But despite an impressive run of results under the Englishman’s guidance, Leicester’s Thai owners have still to confirm if Shakespeare will stay on as the club’s manager next season.
Meanwhile, the man himself was taking nothing for granted.
“We are not mathematically safe,” said Shakespeare, who served West Brom as both a player and a coach.
“We are delighted to have three points and this is a giant step toward that aim. But even if we had got there, we have a duty to perform in every game.
“It was a scrappy game and it felt like that. I felt the first goal was going to be important today.”
As for his return to The Hawthorns, Shakespeare said: “It is nice to come back. I am pleased with the warm reception I got.”
However, he added: “It’s about the result. I wouldn’t like to leave with my tail between my legs after we lost 3-0.”
– Vardy ambition –
In-form England striker Vardy scored his 10th goal in 15 games for club and country to settle Saturday’s match from a pass by strike partner Shinji Okazaki.
“Shinji weighted the pass terrifically,” said Shakespeare. “Vardy is in that purple patch but he has got to to thank the other players for the service and he will say that.
“He is a striker in form, his attributes are being quick and playing on the shoulder of defenders.
“I want Jamie Vardy to finish on a high. He’s scored quite a few of late and I want that to continue.
“It will be a difficult end to the season and we have to try and win every game we can. We showed different aspects today — it was a gutsy performance.”
West Brom claimed an unwanted club record by going a fifth successive league game without a goal for the first time in their history and manager Tony Pulis said: “We’re disappointed, that’s five games without scoring and four games losing 1-0.
“I’m disappointed for the players again because I thought we worked really hard.
“We’ve talked all week about Vardy and the changeover. They play that ball very quickly for him to run into space and we got caught.
“The reaction of the players, especially in the second half, was first-class.”