Craig Shakespeare is due to meet the Leicester City board on Thursday, after returning from taking the players to a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, with his prospects of being given the manager’s job until the end of the season likely to hinge on Saturday’s game against Hull City.
Leicester are still sounding out potential managers, with Roy Hodgson identified as a possible successor to Claudio Ranieri and other names being explored, yet it would be difficult to look beyond Shakespeare if he followed up Monday night’s impressive victory over Liverpool with another win over Hull.
Shakespeare, who would like the job, appears to have the backing of the majority of the Leicester supporters as well as the players, and is highly regarded by Jon Rudkin, the club’s director of football. Yet it is Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the chairman, who will make the final call, with the fact that Leicester do not play again after Hull until Tuesday week, when they face Sevilla at home in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, buying the club a bit more time.
“I’ll leave that to the powers that be,” said Shakespeare when asked about the managerial search. “I’ve been asked just to take the next game, I’ve been informed that we’ll sit down after that, so that’s the remit: prepare the team for Hull, see if we can get the same result [as Liverpool] in terms of three points and then we’ll sit down. I’m quite comfortable with that.”
Shakespeare met Rudkin and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, the vice-chairman, on Wednesday, when he was asked to continue in a caretaker role for the Hull fixture. He will also be in charge of the players during their four-day break, with Leicester’s exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Millwall having left them with a blank weekend before Sevilla’s visit.
“We’re going to take them away for a few days; it’s been in the pipeline for two or three months, it’s just we haven’t had the opportunity with the Africa Cup of Nations and the Derby games [in the FA Cup], so we’re going to take them away for a bit of warm-weather training,” Shakespeare said.
“I’m very happy with that, it’s something the owners have wanted to do for a while. I think if you talk about last season, in terms of the togetherness and how [the players] socialised and went out for meals, they just haven’t been able to do that this season with the amount of games, with the Champions League and the FA Cup, so it’s a good opportunity for us to get together as a team. It’s going to be Sunday-Wednesday, the idea then is we’ll sit down the middle part of next week [with the board], so I’m quite happy with that.”
Asked whether he felt he was in effect on trial in the Hull game, when Leicester hope to win back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time this season, Shakespeare replied: “No, I don’t. The words that you use – on trial – I think at football clubs we all know that it’s a result-based industry. You’re always on trial to a certain extent because you know if results don’t come you might lose your job. What will be will be. I have to make sure that the players are ready and focused.”