4 May 2016

Leicester won't repeat their title glory?

6:12 am on 4 May 2016

Claudio Ranieri warned Leicester fans, who were still in dreamland this morning following their side's "unbelievable" Premier League triumph, that a repeat next season could not happen.

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri.

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Foxes' Italian manager, talking for the first time since Leicester's victory was sealed yesterday when nearest rivals Tottenham Hotspur failed to beat Chelsea, said their target now as champions would be a top-10 position.

It was a typical response from Ranieri, who has spent all season dampening down the expectations of supporters only to finally oversee a triumph considered perhaps the most unlikely in the annals of English football.

Ranieri, back at the Leicester training ground and meeting up with his players for the first time since they were crowned champions, described their success as "unbelievable".

He said it was the manner in which they had played "with their heart and soul" that had been the secret of their success.

Yet asked if Leicester could repeat the feat, which had been rated a 5,000-1 shot at the start of the season, in their next campaign, Ranieri told Sky Sports: "No. I think no, but of course we want to continue to build.

"When I came here, the project was to build a very good foundation and slowly, slowly grow up together and in three, four years to fight for the Europa League, then the Champions League.

"This season is out of our project, but our foundations are very, very solid. We know very well we have to fight for 10th position," he said.

"We want to do our best. I'm positive and I want to fight. Yes, a top 10 target, to make a very good campaign in Europe and the Cup and to make sure the season is safe and then something more."

The Italian reckoned that he did not want to sell any of his players, some of whom may well be the target for bigger clubs after their stellar season, but any new signings would have to buy into Leicester's all-for-one spirit.

"I don't want to sell nobody. If some players don't want to stay with us because they're not happy with us, then I don't want unhappy people. Then we are looking to reinforce the team but with the same mentality. Because it's my mentality."

Ranieri said there had been no great celebrations in his house in the Midlands, unlike those of his players who had enjoyed a party at the home of their star striker Jamie Vardy after watching Spurs draw 2-2 with Chelsea on TV, the result that sealed the crown.

He had flown home from Italy, where he had lunch with his 96-year-old mother Renata, on Monday evening and watched the game with his wife, before calling the rest of his family back in Rome.

After 28 years as a manager with a distinguished reputation but who always seemed to miss out on the biggest prizes, Ranieri smiled: "Look, in my mind, I always believed I have to win a title.

"I want to win. I don't know where, but I want to win something. This is my strength. Always I'm a positive man and always I believe I can achieve something."

Nevertheless, he admitted he had not actually believed Leicester would win until the final whistle at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.

"It was unbelievable because we wanted to do something special, but nobody could think we could have achieved this. It was an amazing season for us. I believe in my players but I was so happy last night."