As Alex McLeish prepares for his first season as Aston Villa manager, the Scot reveals he has never been so optimistic heading into a new campaign.
The players' ability to embrace his footballing principles has helped them to develop a real team ethic and togetherness, that McLeish suggests will stand them in good stead in 2011-12.
"Every summer, the first day of pre-season, I have always had - from the day I started playing football - high optimism," he said. "I'm always thinking 'why can we not do really well this season.' And nothing has changed my mind on working with this bunch of lads.
"We go into the campaign with optimism. We know there are tough challenges ahead but you wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I am really looking forward to the season."
"The Barclays Premier League is the place to be. It's turned into a phenomenon. To think it's the 20th year and it's grown and grown and still deemed the strongest and best division in the world."
With a number of clubs strengthening over the summer, the division looks set to be as competitive as ever this year. And despite the loss of a number of their star turns, McLeish has assured Villa's fans that the squad are still in a position to do well.
"I am looking for more highs than lows, that's for sure," he continued. "We have a good bunch of lads, who have excelled in pre-season training I feel. The application has been tremendous.
"I think the way the players have knuckled down to the hard work ethic has been great and they have realised that it's not about any individual.
"It's about the club, it's about the team and their team-mates and working hard. If their team-mate is out of position it's about filling in for them. They have done all these things really well.
"The Hong Kong trip was very good in terms of the lads living with each other 24-7 and again these pre-season trips are very beneficial.
"I am sure they are raring to go now. They know, as well as I do, that they will be judged on the field when the real competitive action starts."
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