Manchester City are on their longest unbeaten run since the 1970s, and manager Stuart Pearce is determined to see it continue against Portsmouth on Saturday.
After two hard-fought wins on the road at Birmingham and Sunderland, the Pompey fixture will give the team the chance to impress their home fans and express the confidence that Pearce thinks the team should have right now.
“They should have a lot of confidence, certainly the ones that were here last year and the boys who have come and joined us have fitted in very well and have been a part of this.
“The longer we stay undefeated, the stronger they should become as individuals and team-members.”
Pearce will have a strong hand to choose from against Portsmouth, with only Sylvain Distin and Robbie Fowler of his senior players still unavailable through injury. He expects all his squad members to be keenly anticipating his final team selection.
“If I was a player in this football team, I'd be thinking that I can't wait for Saturday. Our players are saying, 'here we go, unbeaten in three matches and in front of our own fans, didn’t win our first game so let's go and win this one.'
“If I think I have to make a decision that will be unpopular with one or two players, so be it. I will have to live with that and at 5pm on Saturday we will know if what I did was right.”
There is a good chance that Portsmouth, like other visiting sides, may sit deep to frustrate City. In turn, anxiety in the stands can be transferred to the pitch, but Pearce sees the responsibility to get the stadium rocking as lying mainly with his players.
“It's a Catch 22 - you want the supporters to be up and bubbling for the game. But, I also want the players to get them off their chairs and excite them. You do that by scoring goals, winning games and playing good football. We'll try to achieve that, and hopefully the two will go hand in hand together.”
The bottom line for Pearce, as ever, is winning the game, and when asked as to whether he would prefer a better performance on Saturday compared to the “winning ugly” mode at Sunderland, he puts it short and sweet: “There's winning and there's winning! That's where it ends.”