Claudio Ranieri has challenged Leicester City to seize their once-in-a-lifetime Premier League title chance with a Hollywood ending at Manchester United.
Victory at Old Trafford on Sunday would see Leicester manager Ranieri’s side clinch the most unlikely title triumph in the history of the Premier League.
But the Italian has told his players their fairytale season will count for nothing unless they finish the job.
They need three points from their final three games to guarantee top spot, although fewer will suffice if second-placed Tottenham Hotspur drop points.
“It is good we are doing something special,” Ranieri said on Friday. “And of course I am very proud for everybody in Leicester, for our community.
“In the internet and in the media, there is a good feeling about this story,” he added. “But it is important to finish the story like an American movie. Always in the end it is OK — there is a happy ending.”
Tottenham’s home draw with West Bromwich Albion on Monday left Leicester on the brink of the first title in the Foxes’ history.
It is regarded as the most unlikely challenge since Brian Clough led fellow Midlands club Nottingham Forest to the English championship and European Cup in successive seasons after winning promotion to the top flight, then known as the First Division, back in 1977.
Now a Leicester side that cost a relatively modest Â£30 million ($44 million, 38 million euros) in transfer fees can clinch the league by beating a United side that is worth more than Â£150 million.
“Now is our real chance to win the title,” said Ranieri. “Next season, you never know. This is once in a lifetime.
“Next season, (Manchester) United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal will be at at the top. But we are fighting now.”
Leicester staged a “blue day” in the city on Friday to show support for the club while Ranieri has been a regular visitor to shops and restaurants nearby, soaking up the good wishes of disbelieving fans.
“I have felt a lot of emotion,” he said. “People are waiting for us in the street and at the training ground, but I think they must say ‘thank you’ to our chairman. He is building a very good team.
“I have not felt this emotion and sentiment before. But I am very glad and happy when I see the fans happy. It is not only for me.
“I am very selfless and I am very open-hearted to the fans. I am relaxed, I have watched my players and they are enjoying it.
“They want to fight, run and help each other. In sport, you donâ™t know what will happen, but when you know that the players are working well and they put in the performance, but donâ™t win, what can you do? Nothing.
“They are training well, so I am relaxed.”
Leicester will take on United without leading scorer Jamie Vardy, who has been suspended for an extra game for his reaction toward referee Jonathan Moss after being sent off against West Ham.
Ranieri said he was not expecting an easy ride against a United side who still have aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League.
“We have to fight a lot,” said the Leicester manager. “It will be a fantastic match, but tough. We have to stay calm and stay hungry. I want to see that.
“For the first time in the clubâ™s life, they can win the title. It is unbelievable, it is history.”