Leicester caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare believes the Foxes squad were hurt by criticism following Claudio Ranieri’s sacking as Jamie Vardy labelled it unfair.
The Foxes beat Liverpool 3-1 on Monday to lift themselves out of the Premier League relegation zone four days after Ranieri’s sacking.
Vardy’s double and Danny Drinkwater’s excellent strike handed them a deserved victory at the King Power Stadium as the champions responded to the managerial change.
Vardy, along with Marc Albrighton and Kasper Schmeichel had been accused of plotting Ranieri’s downfall in some reports over the weekend – something the trio have denied.
And Shakespeare, who has backing from inside the club and is expected to be in charge for Saturday’s visit of Hull, feels the criticism helped spark a response.
“Some of it is human nature. When people criticise you there is bound to be a reaction. I really couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. I’m just pleased to get the three points,” he said, after Leicester’s first league win since New Year’s Eve.
“What changed? Obviously we asked the players to make sure about their identity, about their commitment, the passion, you saw that in abundance.
“I can honestly tell you we have tried to win games in the past. I’ve just been reminded of the Man City performance (a 4-2 win) so we have done it in the past.”
Over his long-term future Shakespeare added: ” I have said before that, do I think I’m capable of it? Yes. Does it faze me? No.”
Vardy scored Leicester’s first league goal of 2017 in an impressive performance and the two-goal striker insisted the squad wanted to prove a point.
“We’ve come under a lot of unfair stick with the stuff that’s been in the press lately and the lads wanted to put a reaction in,” he told Sky Sports.
“The performance showed we wanted to do that but it’s up to us to consistently do that.”
Defeat left Liverpool with just two wins from their last 12 games in all competitions, having dropped out of the title race, exited the FA Cup and lost in the EFL Cup semi-final to Southampton.
Philippe Coutinho’s second-half goal was little consolation and boss Jurgen Klopp admitted their situation is getting worse after missing the chance to return to the top four.
He said: “It’s getting more serious now. We all play for our future, myself included. We get judged every day, especially on match days.
“Of course performances have influence on these things. I don’t think they aren’t as good as I thought, but I think they need my help more to show it every week. I feel maximum responsible because I am. I hope I use the word ‘we’ and not ‘they’ because I’m involved in this.”
“It doesn’t get better. It was not good enough in the beginning, not good enough in the middle and in the end. It was 100 per cent clear what happened with Leicester tonight.”