Top-of-the-table West Bromwich Albion are in as good shape off the field as on it, the Baggies chairman tells James Peacock.
Most managers would start thinking about packing away the contents of their desk and booking a holiday, given the gushing vote of confidence Tony Mowbray received from his board yesterday but Jeremy Peace was being unwaveringly sincere.
The West Bromwich Albion chairman revealed he is more of a fan than he was when he took over five years ago at The Hawthorns and claimed that for entertainment value, the current group of players are rivalling those of the halcyon days of the late-1970s.
With the Baggies two points clear at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship, Peace told The Post: "We are very pleased with what the manager has done. We had a difficult start to the season with some of our big hitters leaving, so I think the players and the manager have done very well. He has certainly motivated the team and brought great enjoyment to us all.
"We are playing brilliant football. Our season-ticket numbers dropped from 22,000 to 13,000 the last time we fell out of the Premier League. They are now back up to 16,000. It is very easy to lose fans if you are not playing well, but difficult to win them back. I think it is testament to the manager and players that we have got them back up to that number."
With 16 games to go and sitting at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship, the Premier League is tantalisingly close, but so strict is Albion's commitment to operating within their financial framework that Peace is not willing to adapt the club's parameters solely to get there.
He warned that erring on the side of caution is why the club is in such sound financial shape. "As a model for the industry, the way we have done things has stood up very well in terms of coming out of the Premier League and trying to get back in," he said. "We have managed to keep a pretty stable business for the last three years, always running on a neutral cash-flow basis and not ending up with a £10 or £20 million deficit at the end of the period.
"There's never any guarantee that you are going to get promoted. You have to keep your feet on the ground and we won't do anything that puts the club in jeopardy.
"In the past, we have paid lots of money for players and it hasn't got us anywhere. We have strived to get into a position where we don't stumble blindly into the transfer market and pay top value for players just because we did not know any others were available.
"If we did get into the Premier League next year, we would be under pressure to find players of requisite quality at very short notice; even if we do not get promoted, which is the worst-case scenario, at least we know our business model stands up."
Peace admits the club has utilised the loan market as well as any this season, particularly with Roman Bednar coming in from Heart of Midlothian and says Albion have ended their three-year financial cycle in good shape.
Player spending and wages accounted for a £6 million loss over the course of the two most recent transfer windows, starting from a £4m debt in June although those figures do not take into account the £9m which is almost certain to be received from Aston Villa at the end of the season in payment for central defender Curtis Davies.
That opens up an area which the chairman feels needs clarity. He said: "A lot of fans, when they see the headline figures and see transfers in and transfers out, do not account for players' wages but you simply can't forget about the wages because you have to pay people."
That means if Albion do sell Davies to Villa, it will not mean that the money will go straight into transfers. If anything, the club are eager to trim their squad to stay in sync with their financial model.
"We ideally want to get it down to 22," said Peace, who currently has 27 players on the payroll. "If the right player comes along, we would look to bring them in but we would also, definitely, be looking to loan players out."
Luke Steele, now third-choice goalkeeper behind Dean Kiely and Michal Danek, could be a prime candidate, as would Bartosz Slusarski, currently on loan at Blackpool, who has featured for Albion just once this season.
Neil Clement, a player who has fallen down the pecking order due to a lack of fitness, also fits that bill.
So, in a football world where giants like Leeds United can crumble, should Albion's approach be adopted by others?
"You don't want to be seen singing your own praises," said Peace, "but people I have spoken to have said we are a good financial model.
"But we have had to do it because we haven't got a major backer chucking money at it not that I think that works necessarily. Every football club is different."