Football

Ranieri ready to drop underperforming stars

Leicester boss admits he might have been too lenient with below-par stars

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri hinted that heads will roll at the King Power Stadium after a 2-0 away defeat by Swansea City yesterday morning (Singapore time) pushed them deeper into relegation trouble.

Their Premier League title defence has turned into a desperate bid to beat the drop, as they now sit just one spot above the bottom three, a point above 18th-placed Hull City and only two more than bottom-dwellers Sunderland.

Ranieri admitted that he might have been too lenient with his underperforming players, but he is now ready to ditch some of his struggling stars after another dismal performance.

The 65-year-old Italian said: "I could be (too loyal), could be.

"It is difficult when you achieve something so good, you want to give them one chance, two chances, three chances. Maybe now, it is too much.

"Of course I must change something because it is not possible to continue in this way."

Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, who last year both signed new contracts reported in the British media to be worth £110,000 (S$196,000) per week, have struggled this season and could find their places under threat, along with another of last season's leading lights, Danny Drinkwater.

Leicester's astonishing decline could see them become the first English champions to be relegated from the top flight since Manchester City in 1938.

They have yet to win - or even score - in six league matches this year, and the loss to Swansea was their fifth straight defeat.

To think Ranieri viewed the match at the Liberty Stadium as a chance to start the season afresh.

He said: "I wanted the start of a 'new season' today, but it is the same. It is unbelievable."

Despite seemingly at a loss to stop the rot, Ranieri insisted he remains the right man to lead Leicester out of trouble.

"Yes, I think I am still the right man for the job," he said.

"I always question myself, but I always say, 'Come on, we can do something good'.

"You can remember what we did last season, but you need to stay with your feet on the ground and say we have to react together.

"I don't think the players have lost belief. But we have to find a solution soon."

Leicester visit third-tier Millwall in the FA Cup fifth round this Saturday before travelling to Sevilla for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie next Wednesday. 
- WIRE SERVICES

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