Alex McLeish has suggested Birmingham City could still have found themselves in a last-day battle against relegation this weekend - even if Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson had been in charge.
The Blues manager was in bristling mood ahead of Sunday's crucial game against Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew's. Blues need to beat Rovers and hope that both Reading and Fulham fail to beat Derby County and Portsmouth respectively if they are to avoid the trapdoor back to the Coca-Cola Championship after just one season in the top flight.
And even if that fate does befall his side, McLeish believes he should not be judged until he has had longer than his current six months in charge at St Andrew's and has built his own squad. He said: "If Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho were in this job from when I came in to now, you couldn't say they would have saved the club from relegation. You couldn't say for sure and you are talking negative, anyway - if we win on Sunday and we stay up, all of a sudden I've gone from zero to hero.
"People told me when I first came in that I'd taken on a really hard job. I think I said at the time that I was up for the challenge and what makes it any easier now? I still believe we have a great opportunity. What's important to me is that we fill the ground and have a packed St Andrew's on Sunday.
"Six months is not enough time to build a team. I hope that these lads who are going to battle on Sunday can come on the next part of the journey and we can add more players to the squad.
"We are an inexperienced squad and we are a small squad. I think we can progress, whatever happens. I have ambitions for the club and I think [co-owners] David Sullivan and David Gold have the power to inspire the fans and to inspire Birmingham City."
Unfair comparisons have been made between McLeish and his predecessor Steve Bruce, with some observers questioning whether Birmingham would be in their current predicament had Bruce not joined Wigan Athletic in November of last year.
Former Blues boss and terrace hero Trevor Francis has even suggested that Bruce should not have been allowed to swap St Andrew's for the JJB Stadium and that their struggles began on the day he departed.
Sullivan has angered Bruce by suggesting that losing his manager and appointing McLeish was a blessing for the club but, understandably, the current boss is reluctant to get drawn into an argument which he sees as hypothetical.
"You can't control what other people say," he said. "Steve could have stayed and taken Birmingham clear, that's definitely a possibility. Equally, they could have been adrift.
"I came in on the back of seven defeats in eight games. The challenge for me was to improve things and hopefully steer clear of relegation. Steve may have done that but it's hypothetical. It's all guess work. No-one can say for certain what would have happened.
"The squad does need improving. Steve said that in the summer and said he would want to add faces in January. He knew, as well, that the squad lacked experience in terms of other teams in the league.
"I can't tell people 'please don't say that, you'll hurt my feelings'. I have to focus on my outcome, my challenge and my goal. We can still stay up and I believe that - everyone has to come into the stadium with that mindset and transmit it to the players because they will get energy from it. Fulham did it last week. Imagine the same sort of fervour at St Andrew's."
Despite the magnitude of Sunday's game, McLeish is looking forward to the drama that should ensue. "This week is different. It's what is at stake," he said. "It comes down to the very last game. When I came in, I said this looks like a battle to the end and that's where we find ourselves. It's exciting, it's nerve-wracking, it has all the ingredients which anyone would look for.
"I would rather it's tomorrow. The waiting is the worst part about it. Just get on with it, get it done. I suffered relegation as a manager at Hibernian. It wasn't the end of the world. It could be the beginning, but I'm focused on another outcome."