Leicester striker Jamie Vardy says criticism of players “fired them up” for victory over Liverpool on Monday.
The Premier League champions moved out of the bottom three in the first game since Claudio Ranieri was sacked.
Vardy has previously dismissed speculation that he was involved in the Italian manager’s dismissal.
The 30-year-old, who scored twice in the 3-1 win, said: “There has been a lot of unfair stuff written and you’ve seen a reaction from everyone.”
Vardy, who has now scored three in his past two games, continued: “It’s definitely got us fired up in a good way to put a reaction on the pitch.
“It’s not for the want of trying [that results have been poor]. We’ve been trying but it’s not been clicking. Luckily tonight it all clicked together.
“Hopefully there will be a lot more goals to come.”
|Working harder or a different style? Leicester’s running stats in past five games|
|Fixture||Distance covered (km)||Sprints||% of time spent high-speed running|
|3-1 win v Liverpool||117.75||547||1.88|
|2-0 loss to Swansea||109.58||422||1.44|
|3-0 loss to Man Utd||108.61||546||1.92|
|1-0 loss to Burnley||104.80||486||1.68|
|3-0 loss to Southampton||103.28||490||1.78|
‘A massive end of the season to come’
Danny Drinkwater, who scored Leicester’s second goal and his first of the season courtesy of a superb long-range strike, feels the Foxes have set a standard for the rest of the season.
“Criticism is to be expected but we have to put in more performances like that,” said the England midfielder.
“It’s hard to put a finger on why we haven’t been playing like that. We have a massive end of the season to come.”
Caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare boosted his chances of getting the manager’s job on a permanent basis by overseeing a display far more in keeping with last year’s high-energy performances with quick transitions from defence to Vardy.
“Before the game we spoke with Shakes [caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare] and he asked us what we thought were the best actions to take,” added Vardy. “We thought it was to press higher and win the ball higher up. We did that and hurt them.”
‘Fire in the belly’
Shakespeare, who has said he would like the Leicester job, was full of praise for his players, adding that he had never questioned their application or commitment.
“I could see in their eyes that they were up to the fight in the warm-up,” said the 53-year-old. “You could tell from the word go there was intensity and passion.
“The professionalism of the players has never been questioned by me. Having taken training with them, I know the criticism has hurt and perhaps there was a little more fire in the belly because of that.
“They know they are guilty of under-performing but this is only one result and we must build on that.”
‘Result shows Leicester made the right call’ – what the pundits said
Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann on Match of the Day 2: “I think there was a breakdown in communication with the players for a long time.
“The team showed tonight that the club made the right decision. Just because you won the league last season, it doesn’t make you the best man to avoid relegation this season.”
Ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown on MOTD2: “Leicester played like champions. They have been pussycats all season but they played like tigers.
“It was all there, the work rate and the pressure they put Liverpool under. It was a transformation in their performance.
“It’s between the ears, they wanted it. They might have thought they were trying under the previous manager but they simply weren’t, compared to that performance tonight. They were quite brilliant.
“They have been vindicated, the owners, for getting rid of the manager, because of that performance tonight. But it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
“I am sure there was pizza and red wine flying somewhere wherever Ranieri was watching tonight. He would have been kicking the television, not believing what he was seeing.”
Former Leicester midfielder Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live: “I just can’t believe what I’m seeing. It’s completely different. They’ve got an extra yard, they’ve got extra desire.
“And it’s actually quite uncomfortable watching this in a strange way.
“They have been playing like champions and the only difference is the manager is not here. And that doesn’t seem to sit that well.
“How many of these Leicester players in the last few months have been able to go home after a match, look in the mirror and say ‘I did everything I could have done during that game?’
“Tonight, they all can.”