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LONDON (Reuters) - Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare has said that he never had any arguments with predecessor Claudio Ranieri and there was no ill feeling between the pair prior to the Italian's sacking.
Ranieri led 5,000-1 outsiders Leicester to an incredible Premier League title triumph last May but was sacked in February with the club in a relegation battle and amid speculation that he had lost respect in the dressing room.
Speaking publicly for the first time on Monday, Ranieri told Sky Sports the players were not involved in his sacking but suggested "someone behind" him was conspiring against him, though he stopped short of naming anybody.
"We have never had any arguments or hard feelings," Shakespeare told reporters on Tuesday, on the eve of their Champions League quarter-final clash against Spanish side Atletico Madrid.
"Free speech is there for everybody. I don't have any problem with that. I have a clear conscience."
Shakespeare replaced Ranieri until the end of the season and has overseen a major upturn in fortunes, winning his first five games before Sunday's defeat to Everton, to steer them to the safety of mid-table.
"I've been filled in about it (Ranieri's Sky Sports interview) this morning, I've seen clips of it. What I will say about it is I think Claudio was in good humour, he came across exactly as I know him.
"But I think my stance is from my first interview (as manager), I remember coming into the packed room then, and stating that I'd spoken to Claudio the night that he was relieved and he'd thanked me for my time and I'd thanked him. He said it was football.
"As I said there's never been any argument or hard feelings and that's my side of it. It was good to see him enjoying his football as he did and I thought he came across really well."
Leicester, the last English team in this season's Champions League, face Atletico in Madrid on Wednesday before the return leg next Tuesday.
Reporting By Tom Hayward; Editing by Toby Davis