Leicester City is getting ready for perhaps their biggest game in club history with a new man in charge.
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On Sunday the appointment of Craig Shakespeare as their new manager until the end of the season was confirmed as Claudio Ranieri‘s former assistant now moves into the hotseat.
Following back-to-back 3-1 home wins in the Premier League (first against Liverpool, then against Hull City) when in charge on an interim basis, Shakespeare has eased fears that the reigning PL champs will be relegated.
Speaking ahead of Leicester’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg clash at home against Sevilla on Tuesday, Shakespeare sent out a message that he plans to prioritize man-management and also not look past this season.
“For me how you treat and talk to people is so important. Man management is a real big component, of course there will be decisions that have to be made but as long as you explain it to people players will be happy with that,” Shakespeare said. “I’m not looking beyond this season. We have massive games coming up and we have to focus on that. We will have plenty of time in the summer to take stock and evaluate things then.”
Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater also spoke about the level of respect Shakespeare has from the current squad (many reports state Ranieri lost the trust of his staff and team) and how the players know this occasion is one of the biggest nights in the Foxes history.
“He [Shakespeare] has been a pleasure to work with as manager – but he’s taken different roles as a coach. Maybe more of a step back than he is now but he worked both roles as good as each other. He helps us enjoy the football,” Drinkwater. “Just enjoy your football. Work hard, do the simple things and the rest will shine through. It’s one of the biggest games in the club’s history tomorrow. A massive thing for me is hearing the music before kick-off. There’s not really a bigger stage in club football.”
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Seville two weeks ago, Leicester needs a 1-0 win to advance to the UCL last eight in their first-ever season in the competition.
Despite their season-long struggle at the wrong end of the PL table — they are just three points above the relegation zone — this game is an opportunity to dream of glory once again.
Sevilla have stumbled in recent La Liga games, drawing against Alaves and then against Leganes at the weekend to fall behind Real Madrid in the title race. Jorge Sampaoli’s men will be fully aware that they should’ve been three of four goals ahead before Jamie Vardy scored a crucial away goal for Leicester in what turned out to be Ranieri’s last game in charge. Sevilla will be the favorites but we all know what Leicester are capable of if their players turn up.
An intense atmosphere awaits the Spanish side at the King Power Stadium as Leicester’s players and fans aim to invoke the spirit of their incredible title-winning season in 2015-16 and added further fuel to yet another fairytale.