LEICESTER, United Kingdom, Mar 13 – Craig Shakespeare said there were “no grudges” between him and Claudio Ranieri after he succeeded the Italian as Leicester City manager as Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 second leg at home to Sevilla loomed.
Ranieri was sacked last month, nine months on from Leicester’s fairytale Premier League title triumph, after the club slid towards the relegation zone.
Shakespeare took over in a caretaker role and following 3-1 wins over Liverpool and Hull City in his first two games, he was confirmed as manager until the end of the season on Sunday.
“Of course I’m part of that back-room team, but it’s about time we all moved on,” Shakespeare told a press conference Monday.
“I bear no grudges, Claudio bears no grudges. We have to try and move on as a football club.”
Shakespeare previously worked as Ranieri’s assistant.
Asked if he had spoken to Ranieri since his appointment as manager until the end of the season was confirmed, Shakespeare replied: “We haven’t spoken since.
“But I said last week, when we spoke he wished me luck. We’ll probably be in contact and I have no problem with that.”
In an online poll run by local newspaper the Leicester Mercury, 92 percent of respondents backed Shakespeare to become Leicester’s next manager, but he played it down.
“If we’d have lost both games, it would probably have been one or two percent and that would probably have been my family!” he said.
Leicester are seeking to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg against Sevilla and Shakespeare says his players will approach the match with renewed self-belief.
“It will be a special occasion at the King Power,” he said.
“The atmosphere will be electric. I’m expecting the team to take the momentum from the two results, to take the confidence they’ve gained from that and really play on the front foot.
“That’s not saying we’ll be open as we know Seville have some very, very world-class players. But it makes for a very interesting game because of the away goal.”
– ‘Real Sevilla’ –
Shakespeare, 53, was cautious when asked if he wanted the job beyond the end of the season, saying he would “take stock in the summer”.
But midfielder Danny Drinkwater said the players were all hoping for Shakespeare to land the role on a lasting basis.
“On behalf of all the players, I think all of us would love to see him get the job long-term,” Drinkwater told reporters at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester were comprehensively outplayed in the first leg in Andalusia, but Jamie Vardy’s 73rd-minute goal revived hopes the club can reach the Champions League last eight for the first time.
Sevilla go into Tuesday’s match on the back of consecutive 1-1 draws against Alaves and Leganes, which have seen their La Liga title hopes fade.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli said his team would need to show the attributes that have seen them win the last three Europa League titles if they are to reach a first European Cup quarter-final since 1958.
“All teams go through slightly bad patches, don’t they?” he said.
“We have to show all the qualities that have made Sevilla fight on an equal footing with Barcelona and Real Madrid for the league title in Spain and all that we’ve achieved in Europe over the years.
“We know it’s going to be very, very tough. It has to be the real Sevilla that come here tomorrow night.”
Sevilla are at full-strength, barring long-term absentees Benoit Tremoulinas and Michael Krohn-Dehli, while Spain international Vitolo returns following a domestic suspension.
Having rested several first-team players against Leganes, Sampaoli will return to his strongest team, with Steven N’Zonzi and Samir Nasri among those due to come in.
Shakespeare said French midfielder Nampalys Mendy will miss the match for Leicester after taking a knock to the knee, but could be fit for Saturday’s trip to West Ham United in the league.