February 15, 2017 / 12:13 AM / 6 months ago

I'm leading a united dressing room, says Leicester's Ranieri

Football Soccer Britain - Swansea City v Leicester City - Premier League - Liberty Stadium - 12/2/17 Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic

MONACO (Reuters) - Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri said on Tuesday he was not unsettled by speculation about his future as the Premier League champions slip towards the relegation zone.

Leicester have struggled to find the form that defied all odds and propelled them to the title last season, but the Italian said he was still leading a united dressing room.

"For me it (the speculation) was nothing because every week I speak with my owner and we have a very good relationship. When something goes wrong the media try to understand why," he told Reuters at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.

Leicester gave Ranieri a massive vote of confidence last week, saying the experienced Italian would be given the chance to turn things around at the struggling Midlands club.

“There was so much speculation that the chairman (Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha) said: ‘OK Claudio, I will tell them something and we stop all of this speculation’.

“We believe. In this moment we lack confidence but you can get confidence only if you win and play well and we’re not in this case.

“But my dressing room is very united and I am very confident in all of my players.

Leicester were presented with the Spirit of Sport award, after winning their first top-flight title, having also been nominated for the World Breakthrough of the Year award won by retiring German Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg.

However, Ranieri’s side have yet to score a league goal in 2017 and sit just one point above the relegation zone. In a bid to beat the drop, the 65-year-old has come down hard on the squad this week and scrapped their scheduled rest day.

Leicester suffered a 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Swansea City on Sunday, making it five league losses in a row, a result which has left Ranieri questioning his loyal team selection.

Determined to guide the club to safety, the former Chelsea, Juventus and ASD Monaco manager said: “What we did last season, we can do the same - not win the title because now we are in a bad position, but I said to them (the players), ‘If we did so well last season then we have to maintain the right balance’.

“We have to be strong to remember what we did last season to make a good balance and improve our confidence.

“When you lose a lot of matches, you also lose your confidence. For this reason I am pushing them.”

Leicester get a break from their Premier League worries when they visit third-tier Millwall in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday before travelling to face Seville in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie next Wednesday.

Editing by Ken Ferris

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