Vincent Kompany believes Manchester City have to prove they can live with the pressure of expectation before they can begin to succeed in the Premier League.
Mark Hughes' side are currently fifth – with a match in hand of the top three – having already beaten Arsenal and run city rivals Manchester United really close in last month's derby.
The game at Old Trafford is their only defeat of the season so far but City midfielder Kompany knows there are still greater tests ahead and City cannot afford to fade later in the season.
With Hughes having spent about £120m in the summer to bring in the likes of strikers Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor the club are expected to be realistic Champions League contenders this season. It is a new pressure for City but one which they must embrace according to Kompany.
"United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea having been living with it for years," said the 23-year-old Belgium international, who on Monday signed a new five-year contract. "They have still delivered. Unless you can do it as well, you don't belong there.
"At the moment there is no reason why I should say we can't finish in the top four and be as good as all those teams.
Kompany, who made his first appearance of the season in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Wigan after finally recovering from a broken toe, believes the squad has the right character to make the breakthrough to the Champions League.
And he puts that down to a noticeable change in attitude within the dressing room, helped by those summer arrivals which also included experienced internationals in Arsenal and Everton centre-backs Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott and Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.
"That is why we are a better side. Everybody would agree we had some terrific players last season as well but the mentality was nowhere near what it is this year," said Kompany. "We go into games knowing the opposition is not stronger than us.
"When one player is injured, another steps in and we can expect the same from him. That is why we are a good side. It is hard to get into the team but that will only make us stronger."
Kompany hopes his substitute appearance at Wigan will help him to regain his starting place. "Everything has been going so well for the team, so I was happy from that point of view but frustrated I could not be a part of it."Reuse content