Chris Smalling has stated Manchester United are determined to qualify for the UEFA Champions League by consolidating second place in the Premier League, rather than merely ending up in the top four.
While a runners-up position will never be satisfactory at Old Trafford, the title looks out of bounds this campaign with Manchester City currently 13 points ahead with a game in hand.
With that in mind, Smalling believes the Reds should aim for second spot following Sunday’s important 2-1 win over current title holders Chelsea at Old Trafford, which opened up a six-point cushion over the fifth-placed Blues.
Antonio Conte’s side could have drawn level alongside United with victory, but goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard ensured United came from behind to secure a vital win that regained second place in the table.
'That's going to be a huge victory'Video
Goals: United 2 Chelsea 1Video
Smalling believes the win over Chelsea sent a vital message and the defender is feeling confident ahead of the upcoming league matches against Crystal Palace and rivals Liverpool..
“It was a huge result and it shows our intent,” Chris told reporters after Sunday’s game.
“Liverpool is going to be another big game and an atmosphere where we need to make sure we play like we did like in the second half [against Chelsea].
“With our home form and our home fans, we will be confident. A result like the Chelsea one definitely gives us confidence. Being able to beat a rival, it's almost like a six-pointer because of how close we are.”
The centre-back continued:
“The confidence just breeds confidence and we're ready for the next one. We've been second for near enough the whole season, so we're within our rights to make sure we do finish in that position.
“All of us, especially that top five, are probably all going to there or thereabouts come the end of the season, so these are huge games and I think the fact we play a lot of our rivals at home is going to be a big factor because of our home form.
“If we can separate ourselves from Chelsea and Liverpool and work our way up then we can do that. That's our goal first and foremost. Obviously we've got a lot to play for and the fact that we can do it against our rivals lifts everybody. We're just eager to get to the next game, but we have to wait until Monday.”
Lukaku embracing the expectations article
"People expect 20 goals from me," says Rom. "I'm playing for the biggest club in the world and it's something I wanted."