'Leicester is a different team'


  • Slaven Bilic says Leicester City have been 'brilliant' in the three matches they have played since Claudio Ranieri's departure
  • But West Ham United boss feels the title-winning Italian was 'unfortunate' to lose his position
  • Bilic expects Foxes to be in buoyant mood following midweek UEFA Champions League victory over Sevilla

Slaven Bilic says that while Claudio Ranieri’s departure from Leicester City was ‘unfortunate’, the Foxes are a ‘different team’ since the Italian’s exit.

The reigning Premier League champions sat 17th in the table after their fifth defeat in succession – 2-0 at Swansea City on 12 February – leading to Ranieri being removed from his position by the club’s owners.

The decision was met with an outpouring of surprise and dismay by many in the game, including Bilic and his fellow Premier League managers, but Leicester have won three games out of three since to climb clear of immediate danger and reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

Ranieri’s former assistant Craig Shakespeare has been given the reins until the end of the season and the West Ham United boss is expecting Leicester to arrive at London Stadium in buoyant mood for Saturday afternoon’s fixture.

“Leicester is a different team from four weeks ago,” Bilic observed. “They really played extremely well, especially against Sevilla, when they got a great result [winning 2-0 to go through 3-2 on aggregate] for them and for English football in general.

“In all those three games, against Liverpool, against Hull [in the Premier League] and against Sevilla, they looked lively and of course those kind of results, three wins on the spin including qualifying for the quarter-final of the Champions League, has given them a massive boost.

“I don’t know why they didn’t play like that in the game against Swansea before that change of manager, but we are expecting a tough game because they are on a good run.”

If we are talking about the performances and results, they have got what they wanted

Slaven Bilic

So, Bilic was asked in his pre-match press conference, did Leicester’s owners make the right decision in replacing the experienced Italian?

“I said after they changed their manager what I thought about it, and still I don’t understand it,” the Hammers boss replied. “But if we are talking about the performances and results, they have got what they wanted.

“Still, for me, it was a bad decision because we are talking about Claudio Ranieri who did everything very, very recently with them.

“It’s that kind of job and is in the nature of the job and you [the manager] are going to be the first one to pay the price. Unfortunately, nobody can say that it was the wrong decision because these last three results have been brilliant for them and the team has been brilliant.”