Ranieri hails record-breaker Vardy – but Leicester boss is still worried about relegation
Striker hits his 11th goal in a row in draw against Manchester United, a new Premier League record
Claudio Ranieri led the tributes to Premier League record-breaking forward Jamie Vardy but the Leicester manager is still only interested in ensuring his team remains clear of relegation.
The popular Italian has presided over an astonishing start to the campaign for his unfashionable club and Vardy's goal brought a well-earned 1-1 draw with Manchester United, a result that keeps both clubs in contention at the top of a table currently being led by Manchester City.
It was the 11th straight game in which Vardy has scored – a new Premier League best – and the first time a player has achieved that mark in the top division since Blackpool's Stan Mortensen 65 years ago.
A small ceremony, involving a signed souvenir shirt, took place in the home dressing room at the King Power Stadium after the game.
“I signed his shirt because my signature is very important,” joked Ranieri.
“I wrote 'Great achievement, great record, 11 games in a row' and the date. Then I made everybody sign the shirt.
“Somebody sooner or later will break the record but I hope Jamie keeps on scoring and keeps the record for a long time. We're very, very proud about this record because everybody, all his team mates, helped him achieve it.
“I said two things to my players in the meeting before. One, win the match, second help Jamie achieve the record. We drew the match and I'm pleased because the performance was good and I'm very, very happy with the record. Fantastic. A great achievement.”
Victory would have lifted Leicester back to the top of the table, the position in which they found themselves last weekend, although Ranieri insisted his only current target involves the opposite end of the division and reaching the 40-point mark that usually guarantees survival.
“We don't think about it,” he said when asked about their aims at the top.
“Now I'm thinking 11 [points] to go. For us, it's important, 11 to go. For our honour, it's important; for our project, it's very important. When I see 40 points then we can take another step, little by little.”
Vardy seemed to take such a high-profile occasion in his stride.
“It was just like any other game. The record was the last thing on my mind,” he said.
“I just wanted to put in a good performance and get three points.
“If I'd thought about the record too much it would have affected my performance and I didn't want that. It would have been letting my team down. We win as a team – and today we drew as one.
“When I got back into the dressing-room, the reaction from the lads was brilliant. They gave me a round of applause. The manager came in and said a few words and he's left a shirt that he's signed.
“I don't know what they'll have written on it by the time I go back in. If it's not suitable, I'll leave it in the wardrobe. But if not then of course, I'll get it framed.”
Bastian Schweinsteiger's equaliser, just before half-time, earned United a point but manager Louis Van Gaal was disappointed at his team's failure to climb to the top of the table and the fact that Vardy's goal came from a United corner.
“I'm very disappointed because I have the feeling we could have won this game and we didn't,” he said.
“We gave the goal away and other chances that they had we gave away also.
“So we could have lost the game in spite of our dominance. I think when you want to be the champions at the end of the season then you have to win these kind of games and we didn't do that so I'm disappointed.”