Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester manager, has given an insight into the imaginary bell routine he has been using to keep his players alert and smiling during their unlikely push for the Premier League title.
Midfielder Danny Drinkwater revealed in an interview this week that Ranieri has a habit of making a noise like a ringing bell at anyone he feels is not paying attention. And when that was put to Ranieri, he said: “If Drinky says something, it is true! I tell them ‘dilly-ding, dilly-dong’ when they are sleeping.
“From the beginning, when something was wrong, I said ‘dilly-ding, dilly-dong, wake up’ during training sessions. And on Christmas Day I bought for each of the players a little bell, just as a joke. It was a funny thing.
“Every manager is different and has their philosophy, their way. I like to [try to make it so] my players and myself, everybody can do our job, but with a smile – that is my philosophy. I don’t want to see sad people around me. It is important to stay together, smiling.”
The 64-year-old Italian has rarely looked anything other than relaxed during Leicester’s remarkable season, and he certainly appeared at ease yesterday – with his team sitting three points clear at the top, 10 games from the end of the campaign.
Before Leicester’s trip to Watford, second-placed Tottenham host third-placed Arsenal at lunchtime – but Ranieri has stressed to his side the importance of not worrying about what their title rivals are doing, concentrating only on their own task.
“My philosophy is not to look at the others – that is not important,” he said “What we are doing is important. We must think what we can do. At the end, if someone is above us, we’ll say ‘well done’.”
Asked what result he would like from the north London derby, Ranieri joked: “I don’t know – can they both lose?” He added: “We have to see what we can do against Watford. It is not important what happens with Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United. What is important is Leicester.”
Ranieri could today welcome back central midfielder N’Golo Kanté, who missed Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion due to a hamstring injury.