Craig Shakespeare claimed resurgent Leicester City still aren’t safe from going down, despite pulling nine points clear of the relegation zone thanks to a fifth successive win which saw them put two past struggling Sunderland. The victory makes the champions’ recently promoted coach the first British manager to have won his first five games in the Premier League in what has been a remarkable run and transformation, but he also insisted it still doesn’t feel “easy”.
That was despite the fact it was Shakespeare’s inspired double substitution that swung the game, as he brought on Islam Slimani for Shinji Okazaki and Marc Albrighton for Demarai Gray, both after 62 minutes. Seven minutes later, Albrighton crossed for Slimani to open the scoring, before the English midfielder then set up Jamie Vardy for the brilliant clincher.
But Shakespeare has refused to get too complacent about Leicester's recent upturn in results.
“No,” he said, when asked whether they were surely safe. “I am still not going to say that because I think we are never quite sure that other teams [are] capable of going on good runs. I have been in football for long enough to know anything can happen. We have to make sure we stay focused and move onto the next one.”
They have done that since he took over, winning every single game so far, something he says he couldn’t have imagined.
“No, not when I saw the games in front of me. It started against Liverpool but I couldn't have imagined it. It doesn't seem easy. It doesn't feel easy, especially on the side. I've never felt really comfortable until the final whistle. No it doesn't feel easy.”
And that despite his inspired substitution.
“Sometimes as a manager and a coach you make substitutions for positive reasons. Sometimes you make them as defender to try and win you games and shore it up, sometimes you make it as attacking. I am really pleased with the impact of the substitutions because that is what you make them for. The first goal was going to be important so to have them both involved was terrific.
“Islam has had to be patient. He has been frustrated, as have some of the other players. It was nice for him to come off the bench and score.
“You know they are frustrated from them not playing. I don’t expect them to be happy. You have a word with them as a squad. You know that in terms of training you have to keep them at it and to be fair they have all been very good in terms of keeping the others on their toes. But that is what you want. You want them to come off the bench and make an impact.”