West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray believes his side is ready to face up to the challenge of Manchester United this Saturday.
The Baggies travel to Old Trafford on the back of successive Premier League wins and clean sheets and, as a result, confidence is high.
“It is here and we have to deal with it,” said Mowbray. “I would have no complaints about going to Old Trafford in buoyant mood on a couple of wins but, that said, every team that goes there knows what they’re up against.
“I sat and watched them against Blackburn Rovers and some of the football was scintillating. The decisions, the quality of passing and the calibre of their players make them a very good side.
“It was the same when we were up against Arsenal. When they have the best players with technique, you know you are up against it but you go there realising that. It’s a great opportunity for us to give them a few problems.”
Despite recent wins against Middlesbrough and Fulham, Mowbray is cognisant that the league and European champions on their own patch are an entirely different proposition. Regardless, his team’s preparations will not deviate too far from the norm.
“We have to prepare the same way for every game,” he said. “You make the players aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition, although with Manchester United there are not that many weaknesses.
“It’s not like you can say ‘play down this channel because we can hurt Rio Ferdinand or get at Patrice Evra’ because they are top, top players. There are not many chinks in their armour but there might be places that you can get into and then look for a bit of individuality.
“We do not need to talk too much about the talents of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo of Carlos Tevez because the players will watch them on television all week but it’s a great opportunity for them to test themselves individually.
“It’s not daunting, it’s a challenge they should relish. If we had been sitting here with zero points, it could be daunting because it would probably be another game out of the way that we are not going to get anything from but we have ten points on the board and we have been competitive in every game we played this season.”
Albion can also take confidence in not being outshone by any team in the Premier League this season. Apart from the first 20 minutes at Emirates Stadium, when Arsenal were unplayable, the Baggies have contested admirably so that, even in defeat, some confidence could be taken.
“The season is hopefully going to be like that all the way through,” added Mowbray.
“We will have to fight to win matches and hopefully we will not lose too many tight games and keep the points ticking along. Psychology is big in players, so to get to ten points is important.
“You have to keep breaking down those barriers. If we were stuck on four points at this stage, we would wonder how we were ever going to get to ten, let alone 40.
“That’s how we did it when I was playing at Ipswich Town. You are not focusing too far ahead, just at the next three points. At Ipswich in 200-01, we ended up with 66 points, a ridiculously high total for a promoted team.
“I do not want even to talk about 40 points because I am sure there have been cases where that has not been enough to avoid relegation but it is seen as a line where you have to get to and at that point you evaluate where you are.
“After the United game we have Hull City at home, which is potentially a bigger game for us. They are third at the moment, it’s an amazing story for them and do we go into a match against Hull City at home as underdogs?”