Football

Ranieri: 'We have to fight more and believe'

Ranieri not pressing panic button despite Leicester facing relegation battle

Claudio Ranieri's Foxes are struggling because their defence has gone from rock solid to leaky and their forward line now looks blunt when it was razor sharp last season.

Eight months after completing one of most remarkable triumphs of the underdog, Premier League champions Leicester City stand potentially one more bad result away from a place in the relegation zone.

Such has been their rapid demise that defeat by Manchester United on Sunday, coupled with good results for relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Swansea City, and a place in the bottom three will be theirs.

Having suffered a third successive defeat on Tuesday with a 1-0 loss at Burnley, the almost unthinkable scenario of Leicester dropping out of the top flight a year after straddling its summit moved another step closer.

Manager Claudio Ranieri may not be pressing the panic button, but the post mortem following their Turf Moor reverse, which left them with the worst record after 23 games of any reigning EPL champions, pinpointed some familiar themes.

Foremost among their current failings is a defence that is leaking goals by the truckloads.

Leicester conceded 36 goals last season, yet have already shipped 38 in just 23 outings.

Things are not much better at the other end of the pitch.

At this point last year, Ranieri's side had found the net 42 times, but they have managed only 24 so far.

While the enormity of Ranieri's success, as well Leicester's excellent Champions League form, should be enough to keep him out of the managerial sack race, even title winners can find themselves under pressure.

The seemingly unflappable Italian, however, is staying calm.

"Panic? No," he said following the Burnley defeat.

"We have to work more, fight more and believe.

"We need to make two, three good matches with points, and then we will be getting better."

With their squad almost identical to last season's, a lack of belief seems to be one of the reasons behind their woes.

A tangible asset of last season's champions was their seemingly inexorable levels of team spirit that ensured they were resolute under pressure and relentless in their pursuit of points.

That steel has been replaced by a fragility that seems to rear its head every time they play away from the King Power Stadium.

They are without a win on the road this season, having picked up three points from three draws, a dismal return compared to the 11 wins and six draws they harvested from 19 away games en route to the title. - WIRE SERVICES

Leicester CityeplManchester United