Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has backed his European chasing side to finish above both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur this season, claiming fifth place remains there for the taking.
The Saints have enjoyed a wonderful season under their new manager but have not returned to the Champions League places since falling to fifth in February. A mixed run of form has followed and the South Coast club have now won just four of their last ten games.
Nonetheless, last weekend’s 2-0 win over Hull City moved them above Spurs into sixth, with Liverpool just a point ahead of them with six games remaining. With only an out-of-sorts Manchester City still to play out of the teams above them, Koeman believes they can finish strongly.
The Saints are desperate to capitalise on their fine season by sealing a European berth. Sixth place would be enough to claim a Europa League spot, as would seventh if both Liverpool and Arsenal reach the FA Cup final.
In quotes taken by the Daily Express, Koeman said of making Europe: “We can do, of course we can do. But we have to play like the second half (against Hull) and if we play more games like the first half I think we will be the eighth of the league.”
Despite the growing air of expectation around the club, Koeman is determined to remain focused on the next game, which is at Stoke City on Saturday. He added: “Next we play first Stoke City and the most important is always the next one and, ok, maybe after a good result we have time to think about Tottenham.
“It’s a great game, a lot of something for the fans to look forward, but we are professionals and we have to look to the next week.”