Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says he is thriving under pressure ahead of his side’s crunch clash with Southampton on Saturday.
Villa, 16th, are set to go head-to-head with the team directly below them on the English Premier League table, with a victory key for either side if they are to pull themselves away from the relegation zone.
But Lambert is relishing the tense build-up and has backed his players to be at their best in the match at Villa Park.
“I’d rather have the pressure than not,” he told reporters.
“You’ve got to have pressure to perform and that is the making of football. If you have pressure on your shoulders every time and know you’ve got to perform, that is no different for the lads who are here.
“You have to be ready for it. The onus is always on the home team to make the running. If you win that, you might go up a couple of places but that is how tight the league is.
“You have to be ready for everything that is coming your way.”
Aston Villa suffered an embarrassing 3-1 League Cup defeat to fourth-tier side Bradford last time out, and Lambert expects to see a reaction from his team.
“We’re feeling probably the exact same way the Aston Villa fans are feeling,” he said.
“They are hurt by the embarrassment of getting beat the way they did. We have another leg to turn it around.
“We shouldn’t have conceded the goals we did and that was the most disappointing thing. There was enough chances to win two games and you have got to take them.
“It’s a huge club with a huge fanbase. The fans travelled that distance and they had work in the morning.
“I’m really disappointed for them. The team is so close to got back to Wembley and we never turned up and never performed. We have got another chance to turn that round.”