The interim boss sensed an intensity lacking in recent weeks as the Foxes warmed up before beating Liverpool 3-1 in the Premier League
Interim manager Craig Shakespeare sensed things would be different for Leicester City before a ball was kicked in their 3-1 Premier League win over Liverpool.
Four days on from Claudio Ranieri’s sacking, Jamie Vardy hit a brace either side of Danny Drinkwater’s brilliant long-range strike to lift the ailing champions out of the relegation zone.
It was a performance in keeping with Leicester’s astonishing title triumph last season – a story that won Ranieri the eternal gratitude of Leicester fans and admiration from around the football world.
As such, reports Leicester’s senior players had a role in his downfall last week did little for their popularity and long-time Foxes number two Shakespeare recognised a desire to right the wrongs of a dismal campaign to date during the warm-up at the King Power Stadium.
“They’ve had to take a lot of criticism over the last few days,” he told Sky Sports. “I could see in their eyes when they came in they were up for the fight, that they had that fire in their belly.
“In the warm-up you could see they were at it. There was an intensity about them in that.
“I thought we were excellent and set the tone during the first 10 or 15 minutes.
“We stressed before the game that we wanted the unity, the togetherness and the energy levels.”
— Leicester City (@LCFC) February 27, 2017
There were similar instructions for England striker Vardy, who scored Leicester’s first Premier League goal of 2017 and was himself on target in the top flight for the first time since a hat-trick in December’s 4-2 win at home to Manchester City.
Asked what he told the man of the match, Shakespeare said: “Go and run in behind, be a nuisance, be a threat for the team and get back to what you were.”
On whether such a dominant performance represented a strong argument for him to become Ranieri’s permanent successor, Shakespeare added: “I think it is one game and I’m humble enough to know that.
“We have to make sure that the owners do what is right for the football club.
“It’s a question for the owners and I’m just pleased for everybody. I though the fans got behind the players very well and the players responded.”