Kolo Toure has backed Manchester City to thrive under the pressure of being expected to perform well this season.
The news that Carlos Tevez has submitted a transfer request, which was rejected by the club, has overshadowed City's impressive 3-1 victory over West Ham on Saturday.
The result lifted Roberto Mancini's men to second in the Premier League table and level on points with Arsenal, who face Manchester United on Monday.
Toure maintains that the players have learned to live with negative headlines and are united in their ambitions this season.
"It is normal that everybody will criticise our team because we have so many big players now and the chairman has put in a lot of money," said the centre-back, signed from Arsenal in July 2009.
"Everybody's expecting City to be one of the best teams in this league and I think we need to agree on that.
"The only thing we need to do is just get the points and try to be one of the best teams in this Premier League."
Toure, who captained the side at Upton Park, added: "When you feel the pressure you can offer your best.
"I think you can see that at the moment - everybody's waiting for our mistake and that gives us more strength because we don't want to be criticised by the newspapers or other teams."
Toure, though, knows there is plenty of football left to be played before any side lifts the Premier League trophy in May.
"The season is very long and there are hard games coming," the Ivory Coast defender said.
"At the moment we are doing well and we just need to think and take everything game-by-game and we will see at the end of the season how far we can go."
Toure added: "We think that there are massive games coming. The Christmas period is the most difficult of the season.
"We just want to focus really well at this time and try to get the most points that we can.
"We have a big chance to get close to them."