David Platt insists Manchester City will not suffer stage fright in their battle for the title.
The Premier League leaders, who go to Wigan tonight, are under intense scrutiny after three defeats in their last four games.
And having spent £226million in his two years in charge, there is huge expectation on boss Roberto Mancini to make City champions this season.
But first-team coach Platt believes there is just as much pressure on Manchester United and Tottenham, despite City’s unparalleled spending.
“Once we set ourselves an objective at the start of the season and said we believe we have the capability to win it, our expectancy and the pressure we put on ourselves is at a maximum,” said Platt.
“It’s irrelevant what else goes on. Out of those three teams [City, United and Spurs], I would have thought there is a similar expectancy on United.
“It won’t be on Tottenham at the moment but, because of their results and where they’ve got themselves with 18 games to go, that expectancy will grow.
“The external pressure can be no greater than that which you put on yourselves. We’re not frightened and shying away from saying we didn’t have an objective at the start of the season to win the league.”
Platt, who has known Mancini since their playing days in Italy with Sampdoria 20 years ago, also claimed the City boss will not crack.
In the past few weeks Mancini has cut a frustrated figure, railing at perceived refereeing injustices, his side having insufficient rest time and the limitations of his squad, with many key players injured or unavailable.
But Platt said that public perception of Mancini was at odds with the calmness the 47-year-old displays behind closed doors at City’s training ground.
“His mentality and desire is to win,” said Platt of Mancini. “He has full belief we’ll win every match. He’s a perfectionist.
“People can talk about his character and his reaction, and the TV cameras might be on him.
“But he’s no different now than he was a month ago or six months ago in the FA Cup final, or when he was a player. He’s no different.
“He knows what it takes to go the distance and he’s quite relaxed at this time. Nobody’s turning round and saying we’ve won it now or if we win the next two games.
“We fully expect the teams that are up there to continue to win games. We know nobody’s going to hand it to us.”
As well as being without skipper Vincent Kompany for four games following his red card in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, City have Yaya and Kolo Toure on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Add to that injury concerns over playmaker David Silva and Mario Balotelli, the latter unlikely to feature tonight, and City’s squad is stretched, while Carlos Tevez’s continued self-imposed exile in Argentina has deprived them of cover up front.
Platt said: “Things aren’t conspiring against us. Things happen and you’ve just got to kick on.”