Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri says this weekend’s game against Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United is a “big challenge”.
The Italian will be looking to stay top of the Premier League this weekend with a win over second-place Manchester United at the King Power Stadium.
In his first season back in English football for a decade, the former Chelsea boss has guided the Foxes to the top of the Premier League for the first time in 15 years.
The former Stamford Bridge manager has coached seven clubs since his spell at the Blues before being sacked by Greece last year, but Italian sports daily Gazetta dello Sport compared Ranieri to a Roman emperor on Monday after his successful return to the Premier League.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the 64-year-old said: “Let’s say I have returned home. And I am enjoying it at the moment.
“I seem to be reliving my times from Cagliari, Florence and Valencia. We are working on a project. The club has asked me to lay the foundations for the future.
“And I am showing not to be boiled like it appeared after the defeats with Greece. It appears to me that the situation did not improve after my departure.”
Leicester, who achieved the so-called “great escape” last season, have shocked everyone this season and are currently top of the league after 13 games.
And the Foxes will hope to continue their run when they come up against Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United at the weekend.
“It is a big challenge,” said Ranieri. “Manchester United are a giant of world football and Van Gaal is one of the best coaches around.”
The Tinkerman, whilst at Valencia, once completed three wins in only 10 days over Van Gaal’s Barcelona side back in 1999.
” I remember it well,” said Ranieri. “On February 18th, 3-2 at Barcelona in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.
“On the 24th, 4-3 to us at the Mestalla in the return leg and the 27th 4-2 at the Camp Nou in La Liga.
“At the end of the season we won the Copa del Rey, beating Atletico Madrid 3-0 in the final. We had a great squad.”
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy will be looking to break the Premier League goalscoring record at the weekend, and if he does so he will also equal Gabriel Batistuta’s record of scoring in 11 consecutive games under Ranieri, whilst at Fiorentina in 1994/95.
Vardy received a standing ovation at St James’ Park on Saturday after equalling Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 successive games.
“He deserved it after having scored for the tenth game in a row but I also didn’t want to take any chances,” Ranieri said.
“In the week, he had had a physical problem.”