Belfast Telegraph

Jamie Vardy: Leicester players unfairly criticised since Claudio Ranieri sacking

Jamie Vardy believes the criticism levelled at Leicester's stars has been unfair since Claudio Ranieri's sacking.

The England striker scored twice in the Foxes' 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Monday, four days after Ranieri was axed, to lift them out of the Premier League relegation zone.

The Italian left on Thursday, just nine months after guiding the Foxes to a shock top-flight title, and the team responded instantly.

Senior Leicester players, including Vardy, Marc Albrighton and Kasper Schmeichel, have refuted suggestions they plotted the Italian's downfall.

Vardy scored the hosts' first league goal of 2017, ending a 637-minute drought, and believes the victory proved a point for the players.

"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," Vardy told Sky Sports.

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

Asked what had gone wrong this season, he added: "I can't put my finger on it. We've been working hard and it's not been happening but tonight it has all clicked."

Danny Drinkwater netted a brilliant volley to double Leicester's lead in the first half, following Vardy's opener which ended a seven-game barren spell in the league.

Vardy made it 3-0 in the second half with his 10th goal of the season for club and country and caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare reiterated his stance over his long-term position.

He said: "Do I think I'm capable of it? Yes. Does it faze me? No. But I think it is in the powers-that-be, the owners who decide and do their job, their diligence to look. I am sure they will do that.

"It will take its course, they will sit down, and I will try to prepare the team as rightly as I can for Hull (on Saturday) unless told otherwise.

"It has been a strange few days. As an assistant manager, who has been an assistant manager for quite a number of years, to come into the press conference as I did on Friday, was a bit of a shock to see the amount, and the criticism levelled towards the players as well.

"I think, knowing Claudio, he would say 'that's football' (about the result). He said that to me on Thursday night and reminded me of it on Friday morning."

Philippe Coutinho pulled a goal back in the second half but Liverpool were ill-equipped to deal with the Foxes' tempo and intent.

It leaves the Reds with just two wins from their last 12 games and they missed the chance to move back into the top four ahead of Saturday's visit of Arsenal.

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

"Of course performances have influence on these things. I don't think they aren't as good as I thought, but I think they need my help more to show it every week. I feel maximum responsible because I am. I hope I use the word 'we' and not 'they' because I'm involved in this.

" It doesn't get better. It was not good enough in the beginning, not good enough in the middle and in the end. It was 100 per cent clear what happened with Leicester tonight. Back to their roots, their line-up was clear.

"It was clear how emotional the game was because if Leicester didn't show emotion it would be really strange. It wasn't that intense but we weren't ready for this."

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