Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Craig Shakespeare said there were “no grudges” between himself and Claudio Ranieri on Monday after he succeeded the Italian as Leicester City manager.
Ranieri was sacked last month, nine months on from Leicester’s fairytale Premier League title triumph, after the club slid towards the relegation zone.
Shakespeare took over as caretaker manager and was on Sunday confirmed as manager until the end of the season following 3-1 wins over Liverpool and Hull City in his first two games.
“Of course I’m part of that back-room team, but it’s about time we all moved on,” Shakespeare told a press conference prior to Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 second leg at home to Sevilla.
“I bear no grudges, Claudio bears no grudges. We have to try and move on as a football club.”
Shakespeare previously worked as Ranieri’s assistant.
Asked if he had spoken to Ranieri since his appointment as manager until the end of the season was confirmed, Shakespeare replied: “We haven’t spoken since.
“But I said last week, when we spoke he wished me luck. We’ll probably be in contact and I have no problem with that.”
In an online poll run by local newspaper the Leicester Mercury, 92 percent of respondents backed Shakespeare to become Leicester’s next manager, but he played it down.
“If we’d have lost both games, it would probably have been one or two percent and that would probably have been my family!” Shakespeare said.
Leicester are seeking to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg against Sevilla and Shakespeare says his players will approach the match with renewed self-belief.
“It will be a special occasion at the King Power,” he said.
“The atmosphere will be electric. I’m expecting the team to take the momentum from the two results, to take the confidence they’ve gained from that and really play on the front foot.
“That’s not saying we’ll be open as we know Seville have some very, very world-class players. But it makes for a very interesting game because of the away goal.”
– Sampaoli warning –
Shakespeare, 53, was cautious when asked if he wanted the job beyond the end of the season, saying he would “take stock in the summer”.
But midfielder Danny Drinkwater said the players were all hoping for Shakespeare to land the role on a lasting basis.
“On behalf of all the players, I think all of us would love to see him get the job long-term,” Drinkwater told reporters at King Power Stadium.
Leicester were comprehensively outplayed in the first leg, but Jamie Vardy’s 73rd-minute goal means a 1-0 win will suffice to take them into the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.
Sevilla go into Tuesday’s match on the back of consecutive 1-1 draws against Alaves and Leganes, which have seen their La Liga title hopes fade.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli rested several first-team players for Saturday’s home game with Leganes, but said his team would need to raise their game substantially for the reunion with Leicester.
“With a performance like that we will find it very difficult to get through in the Champions League,” said the Argentine, who has been strongly linked with the vacant coach’s role at Barcelona.
“They are strong opponents who will punish mistakes. We were clear that we had to think about two teams for two games with very different obligations.
“We have to prepare the best team to be able to qualify in such a difficult game against an excellent opponent.”
Sevilla are at full-strength, barring long-term absentees Benoit Tremoulinas and Michael Krohn-Dehli, while Spain international Vitolo returns following a domestic suspension.
Sampaoli is expected to recall key midfielders Steven N’Zonzi and Samir Nasri, both of whom have Premier League experience.
Shakespeare said French midfielder Nampalys Mendy will miss the match for Leicester after taking a knock to the knee, but could be fit for Saturday’s trip to West Ham United in the league.
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