Peter Shilton believes a top-four finish and “reasonable run in the Champions League” is a realistic target for Leicester City next season.
Leicester have defied the odds to win the Premier League title this season, sealing it with two games to spare following Tottenham’s draw at Chelsea on Monday, but the Foxes’ chances of more success in 2016-17 is likely to be downplayed as they prepare to add European football to their load.
Claudio Ranieri has set his side the modest target of a top-10 finish and a push for a Europa League spot, but Shilton has loftier ambitions for his old club.
“It’s clear to me that the club is run very well from top to bottom,” Shilton, now one of the leading football speakers, said. “The directors have made a number of excellent decisions and been rightly low key.
“Right down to the groundsmen, hospitality people, day-to-day general staff and even the guys on the turnstiles, they’ve all played a blinder.
“The scouts have to take a lot of credit for bringing in the right players, but Claudio and his coaching staff have been outstanding. They’ve kept the squad’s feet on the ground, even while they’ve been doing so well, and maintained a great sense of togetherness and team spirit. Their discipline has been incredible in the circumstances, especially when you look at how Spurs went into meltdown against Chelsea.
“The team’s really well-balanced and strong throughout. The goalkeeper has won them a lot of points, and Wes Morgan and Robert Huth have been solid as a rock at the back. N’Golo Kante has so much energy and not only breaks up the play but builds quick moves for the pacey attackers to use their obvious flair. Most of all, though, they work so hard for each other and for the manager.
“Looking ahead to next season, the top priority is to hold on to the players who’ve served the club so well this year. That might be tricky in one or two cases, but I can see them holding on to the majority with the promise of Champions League football and maybe attracting one or two quality players.
“That’s all the squad really needs – a couple more players to give the depth to cope with European competition. They need to bring in the right type of players for the system and the right characters to keep the same team ethic.
“We know from this year that you’d be daft to write off Leicester next season. I think it’s realistic that Ranieri targets a top-four finish and that the fans can expect a reasonable run in the Champions League. After all, you don’t want to win the league and not give a good account of yourselves in Europe – you’ve got to make this year’s efforts worthwhile and I think there’s every reason they can do well.
“Everyone in Europe is looking at Leicester City at the minute. But none of them will relish taking them on.”
Shilton made over 1000 league appearances during his career, including 286 for Leicester, while he also holds the record for the most England appearances with 125. He is now one of the leading football speakers on the circuit.