Claudio Ranieri believes his new four-year contract will allow Leicester City to build on their phenomenal Premier League title triumph – even if he is keen to once again temper expectations at the King Power Stadium.
Ranieri famously played down Leicester’s hopes of sealing glory as the 5,000-1 outsiders proved to be immovable frontrunners during an unforgettable 2015-16 campaign.
The 64-year-old will now take the club into the Champions League for the first time and is committed to Leicester’s long-term development after tying himself to the club until 2020 on Wednesday.
“It [the contract] is important because when we started last season, the project was to build something important. Of course nobody expected the title,” he told Sky Sports.
“For this reason, now we forget the title and we continue to build a team, a club, everything.
“Of course it is more difficult [to defend the title]. I can’t believe that we can repeat but we will try. We will defend very strongly our trophy.
“But there are big teams now who last season, I don’t know why, made mistakes. Now they have to win because they are used to winning. They have spent a lot of money and they can’t permit to lose, for the second year, the title.
“There are so many teams: City, United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool. There are so many big teams, big managers, big champions. It is amazing. I think the English Premier League is in the middle of the world and of football.”
Ranieri is confident that Leicester’s commitment and spirit will not be found wanting as champions and he took plenty of positives from Sunday’s 2-1 Community Shield loss to Manchester United.
The Italian continued: “I watched very well the match against Manchester United in the Community Shield. We had the same hunger, the same humility and the same passion
“We needed to be a little lucky. But to be a little lucky you have to be strong – stronger than the match against United.
“That is my idea about football; if you give everything and don’t achieve then you must work harder.”
Ranieri made minimal changes to a well-drilled Leicester XI on their march to glory last time around but he concedes the reality of competing at home and on the continent will bring about a return of his ‘Tinkerman’ persona – a label dating back to his penchant for squad rotation while in charge of Chelsea.
“I think it is something I have to change because the first time teams achieve to play in Europe, the players, during the matches, lose a lot of mental energy because they are not used to playing in Europe,” he added.
“The big teams are used to it. They can play and comeback and it is the same. For us it will different and the Tinkerman will come back.”