Jan 21, 2016

    Ranieri aims to give rivals a big scare


    LEICESTER manager Claudio Ranieri may have been labelled the "Tinkerman" when he was in charge of Chelsea but now he wants to be the "crazy man" who scares the Premier League's established big clubs.

    The Italian was mocked for constantly altering his line-up during his first spell in English football at Chelsea from 2000 to 2004. But he has received praise rather than criticism this season for overseeing Leicester's shock transformation from relegation candidates to title contenders.

    The Midlands club, nicknamed Foxes, are level on points with Premier League leaders Arsenal and seven ahead of Manchester United in one of the most open races for the English top-flight title in years.

    "Now, it is a crazy league and we want to frighten this crazy league," said Ranieri, whose team hosted Tottenham Hotspur in an FA Cup third-round replay (early this morning, Singapore time).

    "I want to be the most crazy man and team in the Premier League," he added.

    "It is a crazy league because if it was a normal league, Leicester would not be at the top. The other bigger teams would be there.

    "But there is an opportunity for us because the big teams don't start yet.

    "If they start, then Leicester will fight but we would be in the middle (of the table).

    "The big teams haven't switched on turbo yet to go - and we hope they don't switch on turbo," he added on Tuesday.

    Despite Leicester's impressive start to the season, Ranieri was cautious when asked about the Foxes' prospects of qualifying for Europe.

    "I know what you want me to say, but also you know what I don't want to say," Ranieri said. "I would like too much to give a dream to the fans but it is January.

    "Wait a little longer."

    Turning to the cup tie, Ranieri said Matty James could return from eight months out with a knee injury against Spurs though he might start on the bench.

    "He could come with me on the bench in the next match," said Ranieri.

    "For me, Matty is very important. I watched a lot of matches from last season and he played very well with (Esteban) Cambiasso in the middle.

    "He is young, he is strong, with a good personality, good skill, good vision.

    "This is another very good player for me who can help the squad."