Claudio Ranieri insists players didn't force his dismissal but suggests 'somebody behind me' was to blame

Samuel Lovett
Claudio Ranieri has made his return to England: Getty

Claudio Ranieri has insisted that Leicester's players were not to blame for his shock dismissal as manager last February - but suggested "somebody behind me" could have engineered his sacking.

The Italian was dismissed by Leicester's owners in February - just nine months after guiding the club to their first top-flight title - following a dismal run of form which saw the Premier League champions plummet towards the bottom of the table.

Reports suggested that a number of the side's senior players had approached the club's owners in a bid to oust Ranieri, who was told of his sacking one day after Leicester's first-leg, last-16 defeat by Sevilla in the Champions League.

But speaking on Monday Night Football, Ranieri was adamant the players were not to blame for his downfall.

"No, I can't believe it," he said. "I can't believe that my players killed me. No. No. No.

"The players maybe don't give maximum because there are other problems.

"When you come back in pre-season, you go around the world and play big teams for the first time, it is different."

Ranieri did, however, suggest an unnamed figure behind the scenes could have been responsible for his dismissal.

"Maybe, could be somebody behind me, maybe these people this year they push a little more.

"I don't want to say [who]. I'm a serious man."

Nonetheless, the 65-year-old was full of praise for Leicester and fans after defying 5000-1 odds to guide the Foxes to a historic Premier League title.

"Leicester will be in my heart my whole life. I had won things around Europe before, but never the title. This time I won the title. Leicester will be in my heart, the fans in my heart.

Ranieri has been described as

"I want to say thank you to all our fans."

After his sacking, Ranieri flew home to Italy but has since returned to England and visited Stamford Bridge last Wednesday to watch Chelsea, who he managed for four years, beat Manchester City.

He also attended a Chelsea training session at Cobham and was in the stands for Tottenham's thrilling victory over Watford on Saturday.

Ranieri is looking to secure another job this summer but has reportedly rejected approaches from Wolfsburg, and clubs in Turkey, China and the United Arab Emirates.

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