Craig Shakespeare denies rift with Claudio Ranieri at Leicester
Last Updated: 24/02/17 7:04pm
Craig Shakespeare has denied his relationship with Claudio Ranieri broke down before the Leicester manager's sacking.
Ranieri's former assistant is in caretaker charge for the Monday Night Football game against Liverpool following Leicester's decision to dismiss the only title-winning boss in their 133-year history.
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Shakespeare attended the club's weekly press conference against the backdrop of reports, backed up by Sky sources, that he and the players were no longer fully behind the Italian.
"A lot of it has been speculation without foundation," he said. "My relationship with Claudio has been perfectly fine all along - I've never had a problem with him and he's never had a problem with me.
"We spoke on the phone after the news broke, and he actually thanked me for my support. He seemed fine, a bit shocked but his tone was no different.
"He was very level headed in terms of 'that's football'. Most of the conversation will stay private but his tone was fine.
"I always feel sorry when people lose their jobs. In the circumstances I can understand."
On reports some players had spoken to the club's owners behind Ranieri's back he said: "I'm not aware of any senior players going to the owners so that's news to me.
"What I would say, there was a lot of frustration because of results but he hadn't lost the dressing room. Players have a voice, we have a good group of players who are tactically aware. You listen to the players but it's the manager who makes the final call.
"From a football point of view I have to tell you that the players are very professional. They are very hurt and very frustrated. I've not had one problem with them on the training field. They are very diligent and professional.
"They will be very disappointed, like everybody else, that the manager has lost his job."
Shakespeare insisted his sole immediate focus is on preparing a side to take on Jurgen Klopp's visitors on Monday, with last season's champions sitting just a point above the bottom three with 13 games to play.
But the 53-year-old, who has not had a full-time manager's job, did not rule himself out of the running to replace Ranieri on a permanent basis.
He said: "Do I think I can do the job? Yes. Does it faze me? No. But the focus is on Monday night."