Manchester City defender Micah Richards has hailed his club's vast improvement under Sven-Goran Eriksson ahead of their penultimate game of the season at Anfield tomorrow.
With Eriksson apparently destined for the sack at the end of the season, Richards paid tribute to the shrewd signings and excellent team spirit which have helped the Swede transform City into a top-10 team.
A number of senior City players are said to have considered boycotting the club's close season tour of the Far East at the end of this month in protest at the way Eriksson has been treated.
Richards said: 'We've been quality this season and finishing in the top 10 is nothing to argue about.
'We have bought players who believed we could do it and I think we have been very good as a unit.'
The pride of a player like Richards makes it all the more bizarre that Eriksson is fighting for his job. Some reports suggest Luiz Felipe Scolari has already agreed to take over while Jose Mourinho has also been linked.
In the face of mounting media bafflement City cancelled Eriksson's pre-match press conference this week and also strictly monitored Richards' comments during a series of pre-arranged interviews.
Eriksson's words were confined to the club's official website where he said: 'The boys have worked very hard this week. It was important they did that in training otherwise we would be a bit flat in the remaining games.
'We want to finish the season as high as possible and try to put in two good performances as well. That's important for us as professionals. It's what we have been talking about all week.'
Meanwhile, the chaos continues off the pitch with former City goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel confirming his son is set to leave the club after their close-season trip to the Far East.
Schmeichel senior blasted the trip as an 'interruption' and added on BBC Sport: 'Kasper is not complaining but there's a lot of other players complaining about it and I fully understand it.
'I understand if you go on a pre-season tour it's partly promotional and partly training. But when you have been through a very, very tough season the players are worn out and really tired.'