Mahrez: Ranieri lets us be who we are

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Winger Riyad Mahrez revealed that Claudio Ranieri creates a cheerful mood in the Leicester camp and encourages his players to be themselves.

In a recent interview with French sports publication L'Equipe, the Premier League's Player of the Year spoke about the cordial relationship between boss Ranieri and his players.

Much was recently made of the manager's somewhat unconventional tactic of prioritising rest over shooting drills for his top striker Jamie Vardy. Now Ranieri's prize midfielder has given further insight into the Italian's managerial approach – commenting on the cordial tone he creates in the dressing room.

When asked about Vardy's tendency to joke around on the pitch, Mahrez said: "Him and I, we are the jokers in the dressing room. The coach, Claudio Ranieri, allows us to be. Except one time at half-time against Newcastle. Then, he screamed at us," he said.

"Apart from that, he does like to laugh. At training, he is amusing himself all the time. Less so on match days. There, he is concentrated.

"Me, I will try to joke with him, to tell him that he is late, to make fun of his shoes, even if he smiles, his response is football. He says to me: 'Hey, hey concentrate on the match'. His thing is to tell us: 'Be smart, you are foxes'. The symbol of the club. In Algeria, I have the fennec as an emblem. We need to be crafty," he added.

The Algeria international also spoke of how honoured he was to receive the coveted PFA Player of the Year award.

"It is a source of pride," he said. I expected it a little bit admittedly, because I was hearing everyone saying that I was going to win it, but you always have a little bit of doubt. Of course I was hoping for it, but I will stop talking about myself. I still have not won anything. I saw that John Terry has voted for me. That is flattering.

"He [Terry] has won everything. Last year, away at Chelsea, he killed me. Totally. He totally had my dribbles figured out. This year, against them, I scored and nabbed an assist. Here, they do not let you go at all when they mark you. There are some who, if you go for a drink of water on the sideline, they follow you."

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