Roberto De Zerbi believes Brighton fully merit a place in Europe next season as they prepare to continue their quest with a “tough, tough game” against relegation-threatened Everton.
Memorable back-to-back Premier League victories over Wolves and Manchester United have boosted the south-coast club’s bid to qualify for a maiden continental campaign.
The high-flying Seagulls are vying with Liverpool, Aston Villa and Tottenham for a top-seven spot and have games in hand on each of their rivals.
De Zerbi urged his in-form players to remain focused on executing his possession-based game plan and not become preoccupied by results or the league table.
“It will be a very tough, tough game because they are a strong team,” the Italian said of the Toffees.
“But we want to achieve our target and I think it’s clear for everybody we are fighting against big teams – Tottenham, Aston Villa, Liverpool – for Europe.
“And at the moment, I think we are deserving to reach the best position.
“We have to think not of the results, we have to be focused only on our style and quality of play.
“We have to be focused only on to enjoy and to show our quality because we are not used to playing for this target.”
Brighton cantered to a 4-1 win at Goodison Park in early January.
Frank Lampard was sacked by Everton less than three weeks later and replaced by Sean Dyche.
Although the Toffees have won just one of their last 11 top-flight fixtures, De Zerbi is braced for a stern test as sides at the bottom scrap for survival with time running out.
“It’s a totally different situation,” he replied when asked about the resounding success on Merseyside.
“When we won in Everton, it was a different team.
“I think when there are not many games (remaining) in the last part of the season, the games are always more difficult.”
Brighton enjoyed a record-breaking 6-0 thrashing of Wolves last weekend before the euphoria extended to Thursday evening’s last-gasp 1-0 triumph over United.
De Zerbi wants Seagulls fans to once again act as a 12th man by creating another raucous Amex Stadium atmosphere.
“It’s fantastic, my players feel it’s different to play at home,” he said.
“Now there is an enthusiasm, there is an incredible energy and we are playing with 12 players.”