Claudio Ranieri is allowing himself to dream of winning the title with Leicester City, but only on the basis that he and his players continue to work hard.
The Foxes performed brilliantly in the second half of last season to avoid relegation under Nigel Pearson, and caused something of a surprise during the summer when they replaced their manager with Ranieri. But nobody is doubting such a decision now, as the King Power Stadium club continue to defy the odds and launch a bid for the Premier League title.
Having lost just once all season so far – at home to Arsenal – Leicester had another stern test on Monday against Chelsea, albeit with the champions in disarray at present. Goals from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez gave the hosts a 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s side, and in doing so returned them to the head of the table at the expense of the Gunners.
All of a sudden people are beginning to take the Foxes seriously as top-four contenders and even title hopefuls, and Ranieri told Sky Sports: “It is a magical [time]. But We must continue to work hard, because I don’t want to wake up. I want to continue to dream with our fans. In the training session, we have to put away our dream and work hard.”
Leicester can certainly take encouragement from the statistic that no side which has been top of the Premier League table after 16 matches has gone on to finish outside the top four at the end of the season. And of the 23 sides which have topped the ladder at this stage of the campaign, 14 have gone on to get their hands on the trophy come May.
Whilst Ranieri is allowing himself to dream of winning what would be his first top-tier title, he is also keen to remind others that the target at the start of the season was simply to avoid relegation: “Five points, we need another five points. I put a target at the beginning of the season, 40 points. When we achieve 40 points, we change target.”