Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has said he will start to celebrate “only when the mathematics are certain” as the club close in on the first top-tier title in their 132-year history.
Victory at Manchester United on Sunday will be sufficient for the Foxes after Tottenham Hotspur unexpectedly dropped two points in Monday night’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
With Leicester seven points clear of their only remaining title rivals with three games left, Ranieri knows he is in touching distance of his first major league title in a 30-year career that has embraced 16 jobs.
The Italian conceded that Spurs’ surprise result had taken a load from his shoulders. “I was a little more light. A little,” he said on Tuesday at a Premier League sponsor’s event.
“Of course.. we are so very close. Everybody says it’s done. In my opinion, no. I believe only in the mathematics,” he said.
Ranieri, who had never anticipated a title triumph when he returned to England last summer, added that he did not mind where Leicester secured their prize, provided they did so.
“It is important to try to win every match. Every match. I don’t know when, but it is important to get this goal (the title),” he said.
“I said to them (the players), ‘We have to play as an eleven… It’s not important the name of your opponent, it is important what you do during the match and (to) help each other.'”
Ranieri also praised Riyad Mahrez, who was named PFA Player of the Year on Sunday. “I am very proud because Riyad is a very humble man. He asks every time, ‘What can I do to improve?’ That is fantastic. He is a genius, our light,” he said.
“But I want to say also (that) all the players are having a fantastic season, with very great professionalism.”
If Leicester fail to win at Old Trafford, they will have a chance to secure the title at home to Everton before their final game at Chelsea, who sacked Ranieri as manager in 2004.