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BRENDAN RODGERS DOWNPLAYS LEICESTER CITY’S TOP FOUR CHANCES AFTER CRUSHING NEWCASTLE UNITED TO GO THIRD

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers was keen to play down his side’s chances of claiming a top four finish in the Premier League after moving into third with a 5-0 thrashing of struggling Newcastle United on Sunday.

Two goals from Jamie Vardy and one each from Ricardo Pereira and Wilfred Ndidi capped off a superb day for Leicester who sealed their biggest ever Premier League win.

“It’s very early in the season … it’s a big ask because of all the other clubs that have been regulars there. We’re only really focusing on how we play, looking at our performance levels,” Rodgers, 46, told the BBC.

Rodgers may be keen to downplay Leicester’s strong start to the season, in which they have taken 14 points from seven games to sit behind champions Manchester City and early pace-setters Liverpool, but it is hard to ignore his impact.

Since taking over from Claude Puel in February, the former Celtic and Liverpool manager has transformed the club to raise fans’ hopes of a return to European competition since the 2016-17 season which followed their shock Premier League triumph.

Leicester have won 31 points since the Northern Irishman’s first game in March – more than any other team in the league barring City (46) and Liverpool (49), whom they face next.

Rodgers has also turned Leicester into a slick machine that can counter-attack and dominate possession with ease, as they displayed against Newcastle.

“If you look at the top two teams in this country, they’re brilliant with the ball,” Rodgers added.

“They can have long periods of possession, 60-70%, but when they have to counter attack, they counter attack. We saw that today from us.

“We pressed hard, we were hungry for goals. A clean sheet, five good goals. It’s a good day for us.”

For Newcastle counterpart Steve Bruce it was another day to forget as his short spell at the club so far threatens to descend into crisis.

“Effort is a big, big part of the game and we have not done enough,” Bruce told BBC Sport. “The nitty gritty is we have not laid a glove on Leicester in the second half and the white flag came out too early.

“We have to apply ourselves better than what I’ve just witnessed there because it was a complete surrender too quickly and too easily,” he said.

“Too many felt sorry for themselves, yes, we made mistakes and we got badly punished but to react in that way was the disappointment for myself, the players and the travelling support, which was quite unbelievable.

“Being a manager or coach, I ultimately accept the responsibility because it’s as bad an afternoon as I can remember.

“I have heard lots of nonsense about tactics but the big thing is about showing pride and having a go. We have let everybody down today.

“I always knew it was a challenge, I was delighted to take the challenge but let us hope we can turn it around. I have the appetite to do that.”

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