Claudio Ranieri revealed the extent to which Leicester City believe in their Premier League chances. “This is an exceptional year.”
The Foxes are remarkably still top of the Premier League table with a five-point advantage over Tottenham, eight clear of Arsenal, with nine rounds to go.
“Last season, with nine games left, Leicester were relegated,” Ranieri told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper.
“Then they put together a run of seven consecutive victories and secured safety. I thought there was a lot of potential in this squad and I was not wrong.
“We brought in three new players, without spending a huge amount, and got to work. What the President asked me at the moment I signed on was safety. I’d say we achieved that objective.
“I always tell the players that this is an exceptional year, one that cannot be repeated. All the big clubs are having difficulty and we are playing good football.
“I tell them to continue dreaming, that it’s not bad to dream, seeing as we have earned the chance to do so. From the start of the season everyone said we wouldn’t hold out, we’d crumble sooner or later, we could only be a flash in the pan.
“Instead we are here, without arrogance, but with the desire to continue dreaming. The lads are relaxed, calm, they know we must try to win every game.
“I was really struck, even moved, by the fact my players were sad when we drew with Manchester United. Last year they would’ve been popping the champagne corks at a result like that.
“You can only imagine the atmosphere in the city and not just among our fans. The stadium is always full. I went to Rome recently and realised how much people are following our progress, even in Italy. I was told about reports on CNN.
“The idea this season was to make a step forward so we could comfortably remain in the Premier League in future. Instead we stepped on to the escalator.
“Now we have to stay calm. Fortunately, that is something I never lose. We have to try. We are trying. We will try. For us, for our club colours, for the city that holds us in its hands.”