Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has insisted his team is not motivated by a desire to prove people wrong after surging to the top of the Championship.
Despite being written-off as one season wonders in some quarters after challenging for the play-offs last term, United entered the international break leading the race for Premier League football following an encouraging start to the campaign.
Wilder, whose side returns to action at Derby County later this month searching for its fifth straight win, has taken a number of swipes at United's detractors in recent weeks.
But he said: "We don't do it to prove people wrong. We do it because we believe in ourselves. But I do find some of the opinions incredible. There's a lot of experts out there."
With United out-performing the division's big-spending clubs since returning to action in August, Wilder has taken aim at those who argued they lacked both the financial resources and the firepower to compete in the upper reaches of the table. Captain Billy Sharp, labelled by many critics as being past his peak, travels to Pride Park having scored eight goals in 12 appearances, with four of those coming in his last four games.
Although Wilder is pleased by United's progress, he sounded a note of caution ahead of their meeting with Frank Lampard's squad.
"Nothing comes easy," he said. "There will be bumps in the road and we've got to accept, at this level, the opposition will have periods in games. We can't expect to have it all our own way, either in matches themselves or across the season as a whole. But the players are working hard and showing their characters. The challenge now is to try and carry it on over the next block of matches.”