Derek Fazackerley thinks there is no standout candidate for the Championship title this season.
And the first team coach believes that Birmingham City could and should be competing right up there at the top.
Blues begin their league campaign at home to Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
On Tuesday their first competitive game ended in a 5-1 troucning of Barnet in the Capital One Cup.
“Birmingham’s one of the big clubs in the division, and there’s probably about 12 clubs in that category,” said Fazackerley.
“If you look around there’s Nottingham Forest, Leicester, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Leeds and so on.
“There are only six teams in the division who have not played Premier League football, so that gives you an indication of the strength of the division and how competitive it is.
“I don’t see, this season, personally speaking, a standout candidate like you would have expected, maybe, last season West Ham to have been.
“I think it is going to be a very competitive, tight league again with several clubs in with an opportunity of doing well.”
Fazackerley and Terry McDermott as assistant, bring a wealth of experience to Blues alongside new manager Lee Clark.
And former England number two Fazackerley says quality in the ranks and the bond between them will be very important for Blues, as it was last season when they finished fourth and lost in the play-off semi-finals to Blackpool.
“You do need good quality players, obviously. Those players have got to play with a good spirit as it’s a long season and you do get knock backs along the way.
“It’s how you respond to them and I think the senior players play a very big part in that. It’s very important you don’t get down if you suffer a couple of bad results.
“And also, of course, all the things you talk about in football hold true if you want to be successful. You’ve got to defend well because if you’ve got to score two or three goals every week to win you’re not going to get very far.
“Obviously to have a good, sound, solid defensive base is very important.
“And then it’s about being able to just stay in games. You don’t have to play well all the time, you’ve got to find all sorts of ways to win, win when you don’t play well.
“And I think, again, that’s down to team spirit and how much endeavour and enthusiasm you put into it. And, to be fair, so far that has been very good here.”
Blues have a very experienced squad but it is not bursting at the seams with numbers.
Clark made the point this week that he had only replaced players Blues had lost, either through sales this summer or loans who returned to their parent clubs at the end of the previous campaign.
“If we can keep the senior players fit and available, there is no doubt about it, the team is capable of fighting it out at the top of the league,” said Fazackerley.
“If we lose two or three, through injuries and so on, then it will put a strain on the squad because we are very experienced or very young, with not a great deal in between.
“People who went away with us in Austria and have been in involved in pre-season – Jack Deaman, Will Packwood, Mitch Hancox, Akwasi Asante – they have done very, very well.
“But if would be a big ask to throw them into Championship football.
“That is a big factor in how things will pan out as the season goes on.”