Bullish Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri insists it is too soon to declare Manchester City as the Premier League’s champions-elect and is adamant the Foxes will defend their title to the bitter end.
Leicester, who made a mockery of their status as 5,000-1 outsiders last term, have made a modest start to the campaign having won two of their opening five league matches and already trail Pep Guardiola’s City by eight points.
City have a perfect record of six top-flight victories and their rampant start comes as no shock to former Chelsea manager Ranieri, although he believes Leicester remain the prized scalp despite the influx of a number of high-profile managers.
The Italian has not given up hope of masterminding another glory tilt.
“I am not surprised about Manchester City, I am not surprised for Chelsea, I am not surprised at all because they all have good managers,” former Chelsea manager Ranieri told City A.M.
“I know now everybody wants to beat us because we are the champions but we try to defend our title. It is an open match, an open season.”
An upgrade on the RAF
Ranieri likened his Leicester side to the Royal Air Force last season given the speed and movement of his players, while the Midlands outfit smashed their transfer record on three separate occasions during the summer.
The Foxes outlaid a combined £55m for striker Islam Slimani, who marked his Premier League debut with a double strike against Burnley on Saturday, from Sporting Lisbon, CSKA Moscow’s Ahmed Musa and Papy Mendy of Nice.
Asked whether the signings had upgraded Leicester to a loftier body than the RAF, Ranieri added: “Yes, of course. Now we have a very good platform and we have to build on this platform and we are looking to develop our young players.”
Wenger "a great man"
Ranieri’s Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger described this season’s Premier League as a "world championship of managers", and the 64-year-old has nothing but respect for the Frenchman, who this week celebrates two decades in charge of the north London club.
“Arsene Wenger is a fantastic manager, he is 20 years at Arsenal,” said Wenger.
“I came from Italy, and you know we change the manager after the pre-season – we don’t play and the owners change the manager. It is a great achievement and he is a great man.”
Claudio Ranieri was speaking at the TAG Heuer Premier League PressureTest. TAG Heuer is the first ever Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of the Premier League