by Tom WILLIAMS Leicester City caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare said he was ready to take on the role full-time after overseeing an impressive 3-1 win against Liverpool in his first game.
Shakespeare was promoted from his role as assistant following Claudio Ranieri’s sensational dismissal last Thursday, nine months on from Leicester’s 5,000-1 Premier League title triumph.
Leicester looked a team reborn in Monday’s game, prevailing through Jamie Vardy’s first-half double and a sweet Danny Drinkwater strike, and Shakespeare said the experience had whetted his appetite.
“Do I think I’m capable of it? Yes. Does it faze me? No,” he told reporters at the King Power Stadium when asked if he wanted the job.
“But it’s the owners who decide and they’ll do their diligence and look. I think it’ll take its course.
“They’ll sit down and I’ll try and prepare the team as rightly as I can for Hull unless told otherwise.”
Ranieri may have gone, but Leicester’s faithful showed the much-loved 65-year-old Italian he will not be forgotten.
Several fans brandished banners thanking him and there was a coordinated smartphone light show in his honour in the 65th minute, accompanied by chants of his name.
Asked what Ranieri would have made of Leicester’s dramatic return to form, Shakespeare replied: “Knowing Claudio, he’ll say, ‘That’s football’.
“He said that to me on Thursday night and reminded me of that on Friday morning.
“The performance you saw tonight, I saw it against Man City (who Leicester beat 4-2 in December). We have done it, but not often enough.”
Leicester, who host second-bottom Hull City on Saturday, had lost their previous five league games and were the last team in Europe’s five major leagues to find the net in 2017.
Vardy broke an eight-game personal goal drought in the 29th minute, haring onto Marc Albrighton’s through ball before tucking a shot past Simon Mignolet.
Drinkwater slammed in Leicester’s second with a searing 25-yard shot and Vardy headed in a third goal before Philippe Coutinho reduced the arrears with 21 minutes remaining.
– Inconsistency makes ‘no sense’ -The weekend’s results had seen Leicester slip into the bottom three, but they leapt up to 15th place, two points clear of the relegation zone.
Liverpool would have gone third with victory, but they remain in fifth place and now trail leaders Chelsea by 14 points.
Beaten manager Jurgen Klopp said his players had been told to expect an “emotional” display from Leicester and said there was no excuse for the passivity of their display.
“We knew how Leicester would play: go back to their roots,” said the German, whose side welcome fourth-place Arsenal to Anfield on Saturday.
“We could have done much better. We let them be the Leicester of last year — that’s our fault.
“We should get criticised. This inconsistency makes absolutely no sense.”
Liverpool have won only two and lost six of their 12 games in 2017 and Klopp accepted both he and his players were now under heavy scrutiny.
“We all play for our future, myself included,” he said.
“We get judged every day, especially on match days and of course performances have influences on these things.
“I don’t think they (the players) are not as good as I thought they were, but I think they need my help more to show it every week.
“When we lose, I feel maximum responsible because I am. I hope I use always the word ‘we’ and not ‘they’ or ‘the players’ because I’m involved in this.
“It’s not the moment to make assessments like this, especially not in public. But to say the truth, and I try to say the truth as often as possible, bad performances don’t help anybody, that’s clear.”
Liverpool were without captain Jordan Henderson due to a bruised foot and Klopp said the England midfielder was unlikely to be fit to face Arsenal at the weekend. DM
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