A quick glance at the Championship table suggests Sheffield Wednesday are serious promotion candidates - but try telling that to Carlos Carvalhal.
With 21 matches still to go, the Owls lie in seventh position, two points off the play-off zone.
Victory over cash-strapped Bolton Wanderers tonight could lift them into the top-six for the first time since the opening-day.
Everything looks pretty rosy at Hillsborough, but Carvalhal is adamant they remain “outsiders” to go up.
He told The Star: “Nothing has changed in this period. You won’t see me jumping into the stands when we win or crying when we lose and staying at home.
“I don’t change when we win three games or when we lose three games. I am a balanced person.
“If we win against Bolton we will comeback and train the same the next day. We will sleep and eat in the same places.
“You don’t win anything in January, February, March or April. Everything will be decided in May.
“I look at the table every day but my mentality, as a coach, is to try and win the next game. That’s what is important to me. Right now, we must focus on Bolton.
“We don’t fear any team. We know our value in the competition. When we act like a team, we know we are strong. When we haven’t acted like a team, we have lost. All the players understand that together we must be one. If we are strong like a team, we will win more games than we lose.”
Following their goalless draw at Bolton last September, the Owls were languishing in 18th position, having accrued a meagre seven points out of a possible 21.
Carvalhal said: “If you take out the opening seven games, our team has been one of the best in the Championship. We had some problems at the beginning but we are in a good way.
In Carvalhal’s eyes, Wednesday’s form markedly picked up after the first international break.
“We played completely different after the (August) transfer window,” he said. “We played well at Burnley and missed a lot of chances and we continued to play fantastic at Bolton.
“Bolton was one of our best performances of the season. We drew that game but we were unlucky as we created a lot of chances. Now we are more strong and play at Hillsborough with our fans 100 per cent with our team. At this moment, we are winning a lot of games because everybody is on top of their games.”
The Owls head coach is expected to make several personnel changes for the visit of Bolton, with Jack Hunt, Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper pushing for starts after shaking off knocks.
Hunt, an unused substitute in the Owls’ win against Fulham last weekend, is close to turning his loan into a permanent switch and Carvalhal is pleased the Crystal Palace defender wants to remain at Hillsborough.
“It is good for us because it is a position where we have two players with very good quality,” said Carvalhal, who has revealed he is willing to let Sergiu Bus leave on loan and that Barry Bannan’s new contract has ‘almost’ been finalised. “Liam Palmer has done very well in the last two games.
“The full-back areas are an important dynamic of the team. They know exactly what we want from them defensively and offensively.”
Captain Glenn Loovens is also thrilled Hunt has agreed to commit his long-term future to the club, saying: “Jack is brilliant going forwards. He never lets you down.
“Sometimes he’s going forward and then two seconds later he’s next to you on the same line! He has got the power to go forward and comeback at the same time.
“It helps the team a lot going forward to give us an extra dimension. He puts a lot of dangerous balls in the box for our strikers. We play with a lot of width and Jack is very important.”
Wednesday hope to bolster their options in the January transfer market and have had a £750,000 offer accepted for Bolton’s Mark Davies. At his press briefing yesterday, Carvalhal refused to be comment on the midfielder, who was left out of Bolton’s cup draw at Eastleigh last weekend. It is understood personal terms have yet to be agreed and is delaying the deal.
Neil Lennon, the Bolton chief, said: “Wednesday have got a good team and they have spent a lot of money. I expect them to be in and around it at the end of the season. They are having a real good go and are well backed.
“I know Gary Hooper, Barry Bannan and Ross Wallace well. They are quality players at this level.”