Leicester City enter their final four Premier League games of the season knowing each of their upcoming opponents have, tacitly, supported their title bid. For a variety of different reasons, key figures in the opposition ranks are hoping the Foxes convert their five-point lead over Tottenham Hotspur into claiming the club's first top-flight title.
Historically, English football has been noted for its ethical standards and there is, of course, no suggestion that any underhand moves – what Italians refer to as a 'biscotto' – will come into play. But their conflicting emotions create a fascinating backdrop to one of the most eye-catching Premier League seasons in history.
Swansea City and Francesco Guidolin
Leicester face Swansea City at the King Power Stadium this weekend in what is their easiest-looking remaining fixture. Swansea have already reached the all-important 40-point barrier, and Swans boss Francesco Guidolin has admitted he is eager to see Claudio Ranieri, his Italian compatriot, lift the Premier League title.
"I hope for him that Leicester can win the title because they deserve to win," Guidolin admitted earlier this week, according to Sky Sports. "They have been in first place for many weeks and have played very well.
"It is a dream for Leicester, the team and for Claudio – I saw the tears in his eyes after [the Sunderland game]. Emotion is very important in this period, week by week it is important. He has a lot of experience and tactically, he is very good."
Manchester United and Louis van Gaal
Never one to mince his words, Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has been effusive in his praise of Ranieri's table-topping team throughout the season, admitting their rise reflects well on the competitiveness of the Premier League. It's slightly awkward for the Dutchman, then, that the game at Old Trafford could go a long way towards determining the destination of the title.
Despite this increasingly-likely scenario, Van Gaal – who was a Spurs fan as a child – has not held anything back in praising Leicester, suggesting he would like to see them clinch the Premier League in the coming weeks.
"The money is not always dominating," Van Gaal previously said, as quoted by The Guardian. "It's the quality of a team and Leicester is an example of a team that plays like a team. So you have to give a big compliment to the manager and his staff.
"The Premier League is a very strong league and the difference in levels is not so big any more. Anyone can win or lose against each other. That is the difference to the French League or the Dutch League. In the Spanish League you can lose to everybody, but maybe Barcelona is the exception."
Everton and Roberto Martinez
Long before Roberto Martinez's position at Everton was called into serious question, the Toffees boss added his voice to the growing number of Premier League managers lavishing praise on Leicester. The Spaniard admitted before the turn of the year that the Foxes were title contenders and described their success as "refreshing".
"They are refreshing for modern football because we all know that finances dictate a lot," Martinez said, according to the Daily Mail.
"Normally, in any competition, at the end of the season, more or less the expected sides are always there. I think when you see teams like Leicester and the nature of this year's competition, I think it's inspirational."
Chelsea and Cesc Farbregas
Last year, a Jose Mourinho-inspired Chelsea side lifted the Premier League in the sunshine at Stamford Bridge. Some 12 months on, and the club's play-maker Cesc Farbregas is backing Leicester pull off an against-the-odds title triumph of their own.
The former Arsenal star admitted earlier this week that he is desperate to see the Foxes pip Tottenham to the Premier League title. It was, perhaps, a poorly-timed confession, given that Chelsea face Leicester at Stamford Bridge on the last day of the season.
Asked if he expected any more twists in the title race, Fabregas told Sky Sports earlier this week: "Hopefully not, I don't want Spurs to win it. For what they've done, I'd love Leicester to win the Premier League." And Fabregas's view has been echoed by Chelsea's interim manager Guus Hiddink, who admitted he was "in favour" of Leicester winning the title.