Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has insisted that his side are now aiming to qualify for the Europa League despite them sitting in pole position for a historic Premier League title.
The Foxes sit two points clear at the summit and will go 14 points clear of fifth-placed West Ham United if they defeat relegation-threatened Newcastle United at the King Power tonight.
Although Leicester are firm favourites for the title and almost certain to qualify for next season’s Champions League, Ranieri is adamant that he only has one objective in mind at present.
“Now we are fighting to achieve the Europa League. Can you imagine Leicester achieve the Europa League and next season we stay in the Europa League? Unbelievable,” Ranieri told Sky Sports News. “That is our goal. When we achieve this, I look how many matches are left. Maybe we can achieve the Champions League – wow, amazing – but the Europa League is the next little step.
“Little targets are the match: Newcastle and after Crystal Palace – that is our step. Now I remember Newcastle and Crystal Palace, and after that we have a break and I forget. When we have a five-point lead with less than one match and when the mathematics say yes [to the title], that is it. Believe me, we have won our title by saving the team.
“My focus is on Newcastle, my study is on Newcastle, my obsession is Newcastle. When we played there, there were so many good players. Sometimes they play well and sometimes they are down. I can’t understand but I am sure on Monday night it will be a battle and it is important we understand this.”
Legendary ex-Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday tipped Ranieri’s side to win the title with three games to spare.