Aug 11, 2016

    Ranieri inks new deal, plots to out-Fox rivals


    MANAGER Claudio Ranieri has signed a new contract with Leicester City to stay until June 2020, the Premier League champions said yesterday.

    Appointed manager in July, 2015, the 64-year Italian helped the club defy pre-season odds of 5,000:1 to win the league, the first top-flight title in their 132-year history.

    After writing the Premier League's greatest fairy tale, Ranieri's side find themselves under siege from big-spending rivals determined to end their reign.

    Having lost only three times in 38 league games, no one can quibble about the Foxes' right to call themselves English champions for the first time.

    But to some, their rise was aided by the complete lack of a sustained challenge from any of England's traditional superpowers.

    Previous champions Chelsea surrendered the title with a whimper.

    Arsenal were consistent only in their inconsistency.

    Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool all underachieved.

    Ranieri's side are unlikely to have such an easy ride this time as City, United and Chelsea all look stronger with new managers splashing out on a host of costly signings.

    Leicester have tried to keep up with the elite, breaking their transfer record twice within a week as they spent £13 million (S$22.8 million) on French midfielder Nampalys Mendy and £16 million on Nigerian striker Ahmed Musa.

    But the additional demands of competing in the Champions League might force Ranieri to tinker with his team more than he would prefer.

    His clever refusal to publicly talk up Leicester's prospects should keep the pressure off his players.

    And he was back to his old tricks when he insisted his first target was to avoid relegation.

    "I will start with the same philosophy and humility.

    "What Leicester have achieved has been fantastic but now 40 points is the target, then we will see how many months left to the end of the season," he said.