NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Don’t look now, but the Mets are tied with the Phillies for third place.

That means New York is right on target for its much-debated end-of-season goal, right?

Wrong, according to manager Terry Collins.

“It’s not a goal. I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Collins said of finishing third in the NL East. “It’s not a goal. The goal is to play as good as we can for as long as we can. I said, for me, our goal should be to try to get back to .500. That should be our goal. Wherever that puts us at the end of the year, it puts us at the end of the year. But believe me, we are not playing for third place.”

“We’re trying to win as many games as we can. Again, here that puts us, that puts us,” he added after Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over Philadelphia. “I don’t want these guys coming in here every day looking at the box score, seeing who is in fourth.

“You know, that does nothing for me.”

LISTEN: Collins disputes so-called goal

The New York Post reported earlier this week that, despite the Mets’ horrific slump since the All-Star break, there’s “no chance” general manager Sandy Alderson will fire Collins before the start of next season.

Included in that report was a tidbit on the front office’s goals: End 2012 in third, in front of Miami and Philadelphia, and “help create a more positive perception” going into the offseason.

Collins didn’t help the cause much when he later told the paper, “We talked, how it would be great for us — with the way we started the season — to finish third.”

The manager, currently 138-154 in his two seasons with the Mets, told WFAN on Wednesday that the true goal is to “get back to respectability.”

“Certainly, I mean, it’s human nature. You want to finish as high in the standings as you can,” he told Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. “I mean, that’s ultimately our goal. Our goal right now is to get back to respectability, in my opinion. We really, really played very well and all the sudden we went into a terrible funk.”

LISTEN: Collins with Joe & Evan

The team has turned it around since last week — and could Mike Francesa be their lucky charm? The Mets (61-69) have won four of five since Francesa’s epic tirade last Thursday afternoon.

“Certainly we want to finish as high as we can. And if that’s third place, it’s not where we want to be, but it’s certainly something to go into the winter time feeling good about,” Collins told Benigno and Roberts.

So Collins says the goal isn’t third place. Are you buying it? Be heard in the comments below!

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