Questioning Claudio Ranieri's future at Leicester is ridiculous - Steve McClaren
Derby boss Steve McClaren thinks it is ridiculous that Claudio Ranieri's future as Leicester manager is up for debate.
Ranieri and his Leicester team defied odds of 5,000 to one last season by becoming Premier League champions in one of the biggest surprises in sporting history.
The achievement earned Ranieri the FIFA Manager of the Year award but last season's fairytale is turning into a horror story this campaign, with Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Southampton emphasising that the Foxes are in a relegation dogfight.
With his team five points above the drop zone after only five Premier League wins, all of which have come at the King Power Stadium, Ranieri's position has been questioned by some.
However, McClaren, whose Derby side host Leicester in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday night, believes the Italian has enough credit in the bank after delivering the title and subsequently getting the Foxes through to the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
"To question the manager's job is ridiculous," said McClaren.
"But that's modern day sport, modern day society. What's he got to do to top last season, win the Champions League? He's got to the last-16 easily, they won the group, but for a manager this for him will be the hardest season - winning after winning is very difficult.
"I was very fortunate to work with Sir Alex (Ferguson) ant Manchester United who was the very best at making sure that no-one slipped into complacency. He would win the league, or another trophy, and the medals would be in the drawer and planning ahead for the next season. That's why Manchester United had constant success.
"But to do that is very difficult and that's what Leicester are finding this season. The levels they reached last year to win the Premier League were unbelievable, way over expectations.
"To repeat that after a break is very difficult but they have proved that on their day they are still a top team - look at the way they demolished Manchester City and their performances in the Champions League."
McClaren thinks that preserving Leicester's Premier League status and a good run in the cup competitions would represent a satisfactory season for Ranieri and Leicester and stand the club in good stead going forward.
He added: "Ranieri was absolutely correct last year, it was all about 40 points. It is all about 40 points again this season and he will have done a fantastic job if he gets there and progresses in the cups - the FA Cup and the Champions League.
"For me Leicester are a team who can win, and should have aspirations to win, the FA Cup.
"Leicester wouldn't have achieved what they did last season if it wasn't for Ranieri and their future is brighter for it, because of Ranieri."