Football

'We were hurt by criticism'

Shakespeare and Vardy says Leicester's win over Liverpool is driven by detractors

Leicester caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare believes the Foxes squad were hurt by criticism following Claudio Ranieri's sacking as star striker Jamie Vardy labelled the brickbats as unfair.

The Foxes beat Liverpool 3-1 yesterday morning (Singapore time) to lift themselves out of the Premier League relegation zone four days after Ranieri's sacking.

Vardy's double and Danny Drinkwater's excellent strike handed them a deserved victory at the King Power Stadium as the champions responded to the managerial change.

Vardy, along with Marc Albrighton and Kasper Schmeichel, had been accused of plotting Ranieri's downfall in some media reports - something the trio have denied.

And Shakespeare, who is expected to be in charge for Saturday's visit of Hull, feels the criticism helped spark a response.

"Some of it is human nature. When people criticise you there is bound to be a reaction. I really couldn't put my finger on exactly why. I'm just pleased to get the three points," he said, after Leicester's first league win since New Year's Eve.

"What changed? Obviously we asked the players to make sure about their identity, about their commitment, the passion, you saw that in abundance.

"I can honestly tell you we have tried to win games in the past. I've just been reminded of the Man City performance (a 4-2 win), so we have done it in the past."

Foxes fans held banners aloft and donned masks in support of Ranieri prior to the match.

He was sacked less than 10 months after Leicester's 5,000-1 title triumph, after a run of five straight defeats plunged the club into a relegation battle.

"Dilly ding, dilly dong/We're sad Claudio's gone," read one fan banner, a nod to the Ranieri catchphrase that became the slogan of last season's fairy-tale triumph.

Many fans wore Ranieri face masks and several banners expressed thanks to him, with one reading: "Thank you Ranieri for making our dreams come true!"

One banner held up by a female fan laid the blame for the Italian's departure partly at the players' door: "Ranieri! Your players and owners let you down!"

Vardy was one of the players who has underperformed this season, and the striker insisted his team wanted to prove a point.

UNFAIR STICK

"We've come under a lot of unfair stick with the stuff that's been in the press lately, and the lads wanted to put a reaction in," he told Sky Sports.

"The performance showed we wanted to do that but it's up to us to consistently do it."

Defeat left Liverpool with just two wins from their last 12 games in all competitions, having dropped out of the title race, exited the FA Cup and lost in the League Cup semi-final to Southampton.

Philippe Coutinho's second-half goal was little consolation and boss Juergen Klopp admitted their situation is getting worse after missing the chance to return to the top four.

He said: "It's getting more serious now. We all play for our future, myself included. We get judged every day, especially on match days." - WIRE SERVICES

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