Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri’s primary objective this season was to avoid relegation after their narrow escape last year, he said in an interview as his team stand seven points clear in the Premier League.
The 64-year-old Italian, who has taken Leicester to within four wins of their first top-flight league title in his first season at the club, told US website The Players Tribune he could not have imagined what they have achieved.
He has also praised his players, calling top scorer Jamie Vardy “a fantastic horse” while saying French midfielder N’Golo Kante was a player who appeared to have his own battery pack hidden in his shorts.
Ranieiri said when he met the Midlands club’s chairman for the first time last year they agreed 40 points and survival was the aim for the season.
“Forty points. That was the goal. That was the total we needed to give our fans another season of Premier League football.
“Back then, I did not dream I would open the paper on April 4 and see Leicester City at the top of the table with 69 points. Last year on this same day, the club was at the bottom of the table. Unbelievable.”
Leicester were stranded seven points from the safety zone a year ago but, having beaten Southampton 1-0 on Sunday after second-placed Tottenham drew at Liverpool, Leicester moved seven points clear with six matches to play.
They will win the title for the first time with four wins from their remaining games and Ranieiri is amazed at what they have achieved already, but realised when he arrived at the club that he had a much better squad than many thought.
“Perhaps you have heard their names now. Players who were considered too small or too slow for other big clubs.
“N’Golo Kante. Jamie Vardy. Wes Morgan. Danny Drinkwater. Riyad Mahrez. When I arrived my first day of training and I saw the quality of the players, I knew how good they could be.
"I knew we had a chance to survive in the Premier League.
“This player Kante, he was running so hard I thought he must have a pack full of batteries hidden in his shorts. He never stopped running in training.”
Ranieiri also had special praise for Vardy, “This is not a footballer. This is a fantastic horse,” he said.
Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: Premier League Player of the season.
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