Mick McCarthy has received a boost as he prepares his Sunderland side for their FA Cup semi-final against Millwall by earning the Nationwide First Division Manager of the Month award for March.
The former Republic of Ireland boss has enjoyed a successful season so far at the Stadium of Light, and his team seem to be hitting a rich vein of form at just the right time as they aim for league and cup glory.
Sunderland have moved up to third in Division One and have a game in hand on the leaders, West Brom and Norwich, which could see them cut the gap to just five points.
Last month saw them take 17 points from their seven league games, as they beat Walsall, West Ham, Reading, Gillingham and Derby, and drew with Preston and Stoke. The Black Cats also secured their place in the FA Cup semi-final with a 1-0 win over First Division rivals Sheffield United, which has put them within 90 minutes of a trip to the Millennium Stadium and a place in next season's UEFA Cup.
The Wearsiders will have to overcome Millwall at Old Trafford on Sunday if they are to make it to May's Cardiff final, and they could even come up against The Lions in the play-offs at the end of the season, with Dennis Wise's side currently two places and two points beneath them in the fight for promotion.
Wise and McCarthy are also virtually neck and neck in the Tissot League at present, in ninth and tenth repsectively, with the current player boss narrowly ahead of the former Millwall manager in the season's Top Twenty table.
McCarthy told leaguemanagers.com that he was not aware how close he and his opposite number on Sunday were in the Tissot League, but admitted: "The league that concerns me the most is the one that we're in - I keep looking at the points to see where we are because between Dennis and myself we're quite close.
"If the Tissot League is as close as you say, I think we're next to each other in the (Nationwide) league, and playing in the semi-final, so we're kind of nip and tuck aren't we."
As for his team's chances of winning on Sunday, which would probably take Mick above Dennis in the Tissot standings, the Sunderland boss said: "Well, I wouldn't make a forecast on anyone, certainly not my own team. But I'm delighted Millwall have had a good year.
"It's a game we want to win, as I'm sure they do, but if it ends up being Millwall who go through then I'd be wishing them well. I hope they do well; as my former club I've got a lot of mates down there, but there'll be no quarter asked and none given on Sunday from either team.
"It's a huge game and I think it's a great opportunity for two clubs and two teams and two sets of supporters that have not had it for a long time."
Keeping a team focussed on a cup and on a promotion push is always a difficult job for a manager, as Sheffield United's Neil Warnock discovered last season. But McCarthy doesn't believe it necessarily harms a team's chances of success.
"I don't think so, I think that's other people who say that. I think that sometimes comes from the media, they kind of invite those stories and then if it happens they say 'I told you so'.
"I never subscribed to that as a player; I don't think that was the case. If I'd got a game coming up it wasn't that I was worried because of another game the following week, and it is an old cliche, unless you've been involved in it long enough, you try and focus on the next game.
"It's been kind of good for though, we've had game after game after game come one after the other, and we've not a had chance to think about the semi-final because we've been playing Saturday-Wednesday or Sunday-Tuesday or Sunday-Wednesday for the last, I don't know, seems like two or three months. So we've been quite busy. It was only after Saturday's game against Derby that we could really start to think about it."