Stephen Ireland has hailed changes made behind the scenes that have helped him and City hit a rich vein of form as the season reaches a climax.
The midfielder's self-imposed fitness regime that he started last summer has clearly paid off, with goals galore and praise from fans and pundits alike going his way throughout the season. But a new approach to training and better facilities at Carrington have also played their part according to the popular 22-year-old.
"That's all down to the gaffer and the staff", he asserts, "they have got it right with us. We have proper warm-downs, we have all the right equipment at Carrington and it's very professional. We've got experts in all the right departments to help us out now, and we are getting stronger".
City are timing their good run well, with three straight wins in the Barclays Premier League following on from the victory over Hamburg SV that could not quite propel them into the UEFA Cup semi-finals. The team's strong finish as a whole is summed up in Stephen's own form, as he adds,
"We're all feeling strong at this stage of the season, rather than taking a dip, which is a brilliant feeling. We want to end on a high, and right now I feel the best I have ever felt. I feel fitter now than before, I am coming off at the end of games feeling that I could have run so much more. I hope that I feel the same going into the derby".
Stephen has started 45 games across all competitions this season and finished the vast majority of them, something he is clearly taking great pride in.
"That was a target I set myself. I get so upset if I'm taken off, it's the worst thing ever. I make sure I don't get taken off so I do whatever I can. Even if a game is heavy going, like against Blackburn with lots of long balls being thrown around and not much passing, you still have to run your heart out. The least you can do is work hard".