Alex McLeish is urging his Birmingham City players to prove they are mentally tough enough to deal with the pressure of tomorrow's massive relegation sixpointer at Fulham.
The former Scotland manager believes the outcome of the crucial Craven Cottage clash will be decided in the players' minds and not on the pitch, as the side that can handle the big-match tension will ultimately come out on top and take a giant step towards safety.
With strength of mind the key to survival, McLeish thinks the intensity of the pressure will be more keenly felt in Roy Hodgson's Fulham camp. Not only are they at home and expected to win, the Cottagers know that anything less than victory will almost surely end their survival bid. However, Blues will also carry the burden of a poor away record and McLeish believes it is time his side proved they can cope with life in the Barclays Premier League.
He said: "At some stage, the lads have to realise that they have their backs to the wall and realise what is at stake, how big this game is for themselves and also for the football club.
"This is the most important game I have faced as a manager. You have got to use all your experience, everything you feel you are physically or mentally capable of giving to the players to help them overcome a situation.
"I can give them all the help and direction they need but they've got to take it out on to the pitch. All the shouting and encouraging that goes on in the dressing-room before the game, they've got to put that into practise when they take to the field at Craven Cottage.
"Fulham are now in a situation where they must win the game. I have never ruled any team out of staying in this division, just the same as I didn't think we were safe when we were out of the bottom three.
"In the past few weeks, I am sure Roy has said to them: 'We have nothing to lose, just go for it. If we lose it, then lose it going forward and don't worry about leaving ourselves open'.
"I think our players have got it within them. We have gone away from home before and we have left everything in the dressing-room; now, it's time for us to roll our sleeves up and get out there and show how much it means to them as individuals and how much it would enhance their reputations to stay in the Premier League. It would be as big an achievement for them as for the teams coming up."
McLeish is not even contemplating the thought of defeat and has demanded a positive attitude from everyone around the club, but he admits the pressure of the situation is hard to escape. Defeat, coupled with home victories for Bolton Wanderers and Reading, would condemn his side to a return to the Coca-Cola Championship next season. "I am human, of course I get nervous," he said. "Of course it affects me, I know I am a bad loser but I have got to recover quickly.
"I think people like Sir Alex Ferguson feel stress. It's part of the game, it's part of professional sport, it's part of trying to be successful and trying to be a winner.
"You put enough pressure on yourself if you are ambitious. I suppose if we had been mid-table, it would have been a momentous season. I have had the experience of being at both ends of the table but the one thing I have always had is good belief in myself to take things forward.
"It is a huge game and the most important game of the season for us now. I am pretty bullish and positive about the whole thing and the players have to now step up to the plate and endorse my words with a good performance. If the Birmingham players come off the pitch and our fans are applauding their performance, then that is all you can ask for."