Belfast Telegraph

Stand-in Shakespeare has backing of team as Foxes' ascent continues

Leicester City 3 Hull City 1

By Miguel Delaney

It revealed much about just how new all this is to Leicester City's caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare that, when it came to doing his extra press conference for the Monday newspapers following his side's 3-1 win over Hull City, he initially went to walk away. He didn't know it was part of the gig - but he's very quickly learning.

Claudio Ranieri's former assistant and current stand-in was clearly well-briefed about what to say, as he gave nothing away about his expectations for a situation that almost everyone around Leicester believes will end with him getting the job, and was even impressively calculated with some of his comments on some smaller issues. The sidelining of the dismally under-performing Ahmed Musa was a case in point, as Shakespeare described it as "tactical" - even though the forward wasn't in the match-day squad.

The majority of that squad would like Shakespeare to be given the job until the end of the season, as he is a hugely popular figure, and one they are so clearly responding to.

"We will support any manager who comes in but you know every player probably knows Shakes more than anyone else," Danny Drinkwater said. "If he does get it then it would be a good fit. We have known him a few years and a few of us have known him a long time. If he does we will support him all the way."

Nothing displays the success of Shakespeare's adjustment better than the fact he has been responsible for the champions winning two successive league games - and both by 3-1, with one of them over Liverpool - for the first time since April.

So, what has he thought about it? He may have made the job look easy so far, and the sense is that these wins and the performances them have gone a long way to preventing any relegation battle, but has the adjustment been easy?

"I'm quite a calm person at times. I've tried to be measured in the things I've done because I think it's important for players to see that. They also need to see a bit of passion as well. But I didn't feel under pressure.

"I think the media side has surprised me in terms of the intensity and the amount you have to do. That's been a surprise. In terms of the coaching, that's been fairly normal. But I think I have to say a big thank you to the support staff. They've all had to muck in and they've done that to a man. I think the players would appreciate that as well."

The wonder is how they now appreciate Shakespeare telling them they're dropped, when he used to be the one to console them.

"I can still do that at the right times," he said. "Has it been difficult? Not really. I'm clear in my mind the way I want to go with the team and the selection. I won't be frightened if ever I have to change it. But the human side is important as well. The players want to see you can talk to them and that's been an important side."

When asked what exactly the stand-in manager is doing, Drinkwater explained: "Just simplifying everything I guess. We are very good at doing the simple things, there is no reason to complicate it."

The Foxes beat Hull on Saturday through Fuchs, Mahrez and a late Huddlestone own goal, having gone behind when Clucas netted for the visitors.

Belfast Telegraph


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