Gary Lineker wasn’t exactly over the moon when it was announced last July that Leicester City had appointed Claudio Ranieri as manager.
The retired striker, who now presents Match of the Day, called it an “uninspired choice by Leicester” - per the Independent - and added: “it’s amazing how the same old names keep getting a go on the managerial merry-go-round.”
But nine months later and Lineker, a Leicester supporter, is in dreamland. The Foxes lead the Premier League table by seven points with five matches remaining and look set to win the title for the first time in their history.
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An amusing video has now emerged of Lineker and Ranieri in conversation on Match of the Day following Leicester’s 2-1 win over West Ham at Upton Park on August 15.
That victory kept up Leicester’s winning start to the season, following their 4-2 victory over Sunderland a week earlier.
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Video: Lineker and Ranieri share joke
“So your goal is still to stay in the Premier League, not Champions League or Europa League [smiles]?” Lineker asked Ranieri in a post-match interview.
Both men laugh at the joke, before Ranieri replies: “Ah, thank you Gary but it’s not possible.”
Ranieri was only being realistic
While Ranieri’s response might seem a little pessimistic today, it’s important to note that the Italian coach was simply being realistic at the time.
Leicester may have started the season with two wins from two, but they were still among the bookmakers’ favourites to be relegated to the Championship.
Priced at 5,000-1 to win the Premier League title at the start of the 2015-16 campaign, nobody imagined it would be genuinely possible for Ranieri’s men to be crowned champions of England.
Leicester can wrap up the title by winning their next three matches against West Ham (H), Swansea City (H) and Manchester United (A).
However, if they fail to secure the required number of points before their trip to Old Trafford, they will still have the chance to lift the Premier League trophy against Everton (H) on May 7 or against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the final day of the season.
Ranieri calls on players to remain focused
Ranieri is acutely aware that Tottenham, who beat United 3-0 on Sunday, will be ready to capitalise on any slip-ups his side make over the next few weeks - and has called on his players to remain focused, despite this seven-point advantage.
"The fans must continue to dream but we must be concentrated and focused,” the Italian was quoted as saying by BBC Sport following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Sunderland. “We have to stay calm, be focused, strong, solid and keep going.”
Could Leicester have won the Premier League title this season without Ranieri? Have your say by leaving a comment below.