Dean Smith says Walsall are relishing the underdog tag as they prepare to tackle top-of-the-table Leyton Orient tomorrow.
The O’s have won their opening eight League One games, scoring 23 goals, to open up a five-point lead at the top.
But manager Smith, who spent 10 years at the Brisbane Road club, first as a player and then as assistant boss, believes firmly that there is nothing for his Saddlers side to fear.
And while acknowledging the hosts will be favourites to make it nine out of nine, Smith believes his players flourish under such pressure – and points to the derby win over Wolves as a very recent example of upsetting the odds.
“It doesn’t come any tougher than going to the league leaders who have won eight on the spin,” he said.
“But I like the tag of going there as underdogs.
“Whatever had happened up to this point in the season I think we would have been going as underdogs, because we have the smaller budget.
“I think we like the challenge of any game. Leyton Orient is no different to playing Crewe away, Wolves away or Rotherham at home.
“It’s the next game and we don’t have to lift ourselves for it, because the group of players we have got are professional enough to lift themselves for any game.”
While Orient’s blistering start is the talk of the division, Smith’s men are in decent form too and can boast a return of seven points from their previous three games, including the superb derby win.
They will also draw confidence from an impressive away record which has seen them win three from four on the road in the league.
Smith, who left the O’s in 2009, is impressed by his former club’s opening.
“It’s a fantastic start to the season and it’s not a massive surprise,” he said.
“Along with ourselves they were probably the form side at the end of last season and they have carried it on.
“What they are doing, they are doing really well.
“They have a small squad but a good quality squad.
“Their first XI is a match for anyone.”