Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri insists he was not playing for laughs when he said avoiding relegation was his number one aim again this season.
Ranieri repeatedly deferred talk of a title tilt last term by saying preserving Premier League status was his mission, but ended up guiding the Foxes to a remarkable triumph.
The affable Italian set himself the same benchmark this term, to much mirth, but an opening day defeat at relegation favourites Hull have cast his comments in a new light.
“When I say ’40 points’ a lot of people are laughing but it is true,” Ranieri said after a disjointed display at the KCOM Stadium saw Leicester become the first defending champions to start the season in defeat.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) August 15, 2016
“I think we forget…champions or not champions we know very well last season was something special. Now we are back with feet on the ground and we have to work hard.
“Last season we made something unforgettable, unbelievable and everything was perfect. But football is not perfect.”
The absence of midfield shield N’Golo Kante, who left for Chelsea in the summer, was notable on Saturday as Hull were able to wrestle control in the centre of the field.
But Ranieri refused to dwell for even a moment on the Frenchman’s exit.
“If everyone is thinking ‘Kante, Kante’, no. He doesn’t exist. Finished. Kante is out,” he said.