Claudio Ranieri put to rest the notion that Leicester City players cost him his job as manager of the reigning English Premier League (EPL) champions.
“I don’t believe rumours the players spoke to the Leicester owners about sacking me,” Ranieri told Sky Sports.
“The players got to experience something totally different. In pre-season they played against big teams, went all over the world. I don’t believe the players killed me,” Ranieri said, speaking for the first time since being sacked nine months after he led Leicester to a highly improbable league triumph last season.
Leicester struggled during the early stages of the season and were just one point above the relegation zone when Ranieri was removed as manager. Leicester have been in superb form since Ranieri’s sacking under new manager Craig Shakespeare, winning six games on the bounce.
Ranieri, however, asserted that the players did not conspire to remove him as manager although he did admit that someone else within the club could be responsible.
“I listened to a lot of stories about this. Maybe it could be someone behind me, but maybe the little problem I had before the title, maybe they push a little more when we lose this year,” the 65-year-old Italian said.
“I don’t want to tell. I am a serious man, a loyal man. What I have to say, I say face-to-face.”
Reflecting on his sacking, he said: “Of course, it wasn’t easy, because I knew that the second year was totally different. When you have won the title, the players have to understand what happened, to reset their minds, because it’s not easy, and we were not a team that was used to fighting for the title, we were a little team and then ‘explosion,’ we won the title.”
“Then we had to stay calm. I believe that sooner or later we would turn. The turning point was the Sevilla match. In the second half everyone was together again, fighting, Jamie scoring. We made very good matches before that but not with the same consistency of the year before, that was the problem,” he added.
“To go to Sevilla, the team who won the Europa League three times in a row, it’s not easy to go there and (only) lose 2-1, so when I was sacked it was a shock for me and for everyone.”