Belfast Telegraph

Paul Clement: Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri deserves more time

Paul Clement believes Claudio Ranieri has earned the right to turn Leicester's season around as the faltering Premier League champions prepare to meet his Swansea side.

Four straight defeats have left Leicester just one point above the drop zone, on the same number of points as Swansea, ahead of Sunday's crunch relegation showdown at the Liberty Stadium.

Reports also surfaced recently that Ranieri has been losing his grip on the dressing room after confusing players with tactics and team selection.

But Ranieri insists everything is normal and he received a vote of confidence from Leicester's Thai owners, who pledged their "unwavering support" to the 65-year-old Italian, before the Foxes beat Derby 3-1 in their FA Cup fourth-round replay on Wednesday night.

"You never know what the truth is coming out of those situations," Clement said.

"But some of the talk coming out about unrest I don't understand.

"Players speaking to the chairman and pundits talking about who might be the next coach of Leicester is not right.

"He was a good manager going into Leicester, having been manager of Chelsea, Inter Milan and other very good clubs.

"But based on what he did last year he is a very good coach and manager.

"Tactically he is very good and he did amazingly well with that group of players.

"He got them so mentally tough during that run-in they had. People thought they would fall away, but they kept winning 1-0 week in and week out.

"What he did last year was truly remarkable, and for that alone he deserves time to put it right."

Leicester have reached the last 16 of the Champions League and play Sevilla later this month.

But they are at risk of becoming the first champions of England to be relegated since Manchester City were in 1938.

"It has surprised me, but then it was a big surprise last season as well," Clement said of Leicester's struggles.

"I watched it unfold at the end and enjoyed what a magical spectacle it was.

"They've had a difficult year and it just shows how tough this league is.

"It's uncharted territory for Leicester, first of all how they won the league last year and this year defending it.

"But they are still a very good team and we've got to make sure they don't put things right against us."

While Leicester enter Sunday's clash in poor league form, Swansea are in confident mood despite losing 2-1 at Manchester City last weekend.

Swansea had won three of their four games since Clement arrived at the start of January before Gabriel Jesus' stoppage-time winner denied them a point at the Etihad Stadium.

"Even though we didn't get anything out of our last game we go into this game with a lot of confidence and belief that we are moving in the right direction," Clement said.

"The two teams are on level on points and we won't play each other again this season, so it does add a little bit of extra spice to the fixture.

"We are playing at home, that's a clear advantage for us, and we need to make the most of that.

"Psychologically if we get the performance and the victory it's going to be a big boost, particularly after the difficult result and conceding so late in the last game."

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