Jamie Vardy: Leicester players fired up by ‘unfair’ criticisim
Jürgen Klopp says futures are on the line after another poor Liverpool performance
Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton celebrate after Leicester City’s win over Liverpool. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Jamie Vardy admitted that Leicester City’s players were stung by the criticism they have received since Claudio Ranieri’s sacking as the England international scored twice to inspire the Premier League champions to a victory over Liverpool that lifts them out of the relegation zone.
It was Leicester’s first league win of the year, ending a run of five successive top-flight defeats, and came on a night when the Leicester fans chanted Ranieri’s name in the 65th minute and stood to applaud the Italian, who was dismissed on Thursday amid accusations that some of the players had pushed for his departure. Vardy has denied any part in Ranieri’s dismissal and he responded with his first league goals since December as Liverpool were beaten 3-1, with Danny Drinkwater scoring Leicester’s other goal and Philippe Coutinho pulling one back for Jürgen Klopp’s team, who were hugely disappointing.
“There has been a lot of unfair stuff written and you’ve seen a reaction from everyone,” Vardy said. “It definitely got us fired up in a good way to put a reaction on the pitch. The mood is a bit of joy and relief. We deserved it and now we have to make sure we keep the continuity going and it will drag us away from the position we’re in.”
The win will do Craig Shakespeare’s chances of landing the job until the end of the season no harm. Ranieri’s former assistant restored Shinji Okazaki to the starting lineup and reverted to the sort of tactics that were so successful last season.
“Before the game we spoke with Shakes and he asked us what we thought were the best actions to take,” Vardy said. “We thought it was to press higher and win the ball higher up. We did that and hurt them.”
Shakespeare said: “Could I do the job? I think I can. Does it faze me? No. I’ve quite enjoyed the last few days in a way. I’ve been an assistant manager for a long, long time. It’s been different. I think it is one game and I’m humble enough to know that. We have to make sure the owners do what’s right for the football club. It’s a question for the owners.”
In the absence of Claudio Ranieri, Leicester delivered precisely the kind of performance which made them champions, recording their first league goals and first win of 2017; Liverpool, meanwhile, were abject
Klopp was furious with his team’s performance and suggested that futures were on the line. “We all play for our future, myself included,” said the Liverpool manager. “We get judged every day, especially on match days. Of course, performances have influence on these things. I don’t think the players aren’t as good as I thought, but I think they need my help more to show it every week. I hope I use the word ‘we’ and not ‘they’ because I’m involved in this. It’s not the moment to make assessments like this, especially not in public. I try to say the truth as often as possible. But bad performances don’t help anyone, that’s clear.”
Liverpool, Klopp said, never came to terms with Leicester’s high-tempo approach from the start. “It was not good enough in the beginning, not good enough in the middle and in the end. It was 100% clear what happened with Leicester tonight. Back to their roots, their lineup was clear. It was clear how emotional the game was because if Leicester didn’t show emotion it would be really strange. It wasn’t that intense but we weren’t ready for this. We tried to be absolutely ready from the first second. But we tried with the wrong tools. The first goal was like a friendly game.”