Defender Gary Liddle has picked up a number of man-of-the-match awards since his return to the side at the beginning of October and he admitted this week that he's feeling very comfortable playing beside experienced centre back Clint Hill in what he feels is his preferred position.
The pair helped the side to a clean sheet and three points against Yeovil on Saturday and we caught up with Gary to talk about his impressive form, and the game, on Tuesday morning.
“I think a result like that has been coming for a while,” he said. “We don’t think we’ve had the results we’ve deserved at home, but it was a good performance from the lads and everything seemed to click on the day.
“We’ve worked on different formations recently and the manager chose to go with a straight 4-4-2 in the end, and that paid off for us. We created a lot of chances and we scored the goals to go with it, so we were all very pleased.”
The tone was established on the day with an early screamer from team captain Danny Grainger which set the team on the way to a convincing win.
“It was a great goal,” he commented. “I think that’s six for the season for him now and that’s a decent return for a left back. Hopefully there’ll be a few more to come like it.
“Overall I think the result was more important to all of us than who got the goals. We’ve been good away from home but struggling for results here, and it’s usually the other way around.
“To get the home form up and running with what we’ve done over the last few weekends has been just what we needed. Being honest, we do feel hard done by because we haven’t got the results the performances we’ve put in have deserved.
“We’ve had draws which should have been wins, but maybe there’s a bit of momentum with us now. It’s such a tight league that the play-off places aren’t too many points away. Naturally you look over your shoulder but, at the same time, you also want to stay positive and keep looking at what is in front.
“We’re a couple of wins off the top seven and just three or four away from the automatic places, so it’s definitely all to play for. We have a couple of tough games coming up, but that’s always the way in this division. You’re playing to very fine margins, but we seem to be going well at the moment. Long may that continue.”
With the team now on a run of five games unbeaten in the league the confidence levels are there for all to see, with more of the same at the top of the agenda.
“Confidence is very high,” he confirmed. “We’re back on the road for the next two games and I’m looking forward to Grimsby because I haven’t played there for a long time. The good thing is that we all feel we can go to these places and get results.
“We know if we play the way we’re capable of playing we’re going to cause teams problems. The strikers are getting their goals and defensively we look solid. If we can maintain that we’ll keep getting the wins and the points.”
Part of that defensive solidity has been the man-of-the-match performances United’s number five has been putting in at the heart of the back line.
“I’m enjoying my football at the moment,” he said. “The good form has come along, I believe, because I’m playing in my best position. I’ve had a run of games in the centre of defence and that’s made a difference.
“I’m more than happy to play in other positions if I’m needed, as the manager knows, but I’ve always felt that if I could get a run of games in what I consider to be my best position then I could do well.
“Couple that with Clint Hill’s arrival and it was only ever going to be good for me. He’s been a terrific signing and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that results and performances have picked up since he came in.
“Playing beside him - with his experience and the levels he’s played at - the big thing for me was that I didn’t want to let him down. I’ve approached every game in that way because I don’t want to be the one who lets the man beside me down, whoever it is.
“People on the outside probably look at Clint coming in at 39 and think he’s possibly looking for his last club and he just wants to ride his career out. You couldn’t be more wrong about that if you do think that way.
“He comes in and works hard and he’s dedicated to getting results for the football club. He’s been terrific. We know he needs looking after, because it’s important we get him out there every weekend, but he’s a fit lad and he’s been really good for us.
“It’s a pleasure to play beside him. We’ve played well over 1,000 games between us and I think experience is vital at any level. When you go to places like Grimsby and Luton, especially on cold Tuesday nights, it’s not all about the football, it’s about knowing how to win games.
“We’ve got plenty of experienced lads in the team who’ve played a lot of games and I think that’s important, because we go into match days knowing how to get results.”
The central defender’s recent run of starts followed a spell of six games in September where he found himself on the bench as the manager looked closely at other personnel and formations.
“I’m not going to lie, I don’t like not being involved,” he admitted. “I haven’t notched up nearly 600 games by being a substitute. I said that to the manager at the time and he totally understood.
“On the flip side I also understood he had a team to pick, and he was picking the players he thought would win us games. I found it really hard, because it’s not what I’m about, and I think it’s fair to say I probably took it home with me, which I don’t like to do.
“It hurts inside but I don’t let it get me down. I train hard and work hard. By doing that I knew when the chance did come that I would be ready to take it. Unfortunately that chance came along because Tom [Parkes] picked up a suspension.
“Tom has been a great signing for us, but I think it was important that the manager had someone to fall back on when that did happen. I like to think I’ve taken my chance and forged a decent partnership alongside Clint. Hopefully that can continue.
“That’s not to say it has to be at Tom’s expense, and the manager has shown he'll change formations and play different styles when he feels he needs to. We played three at the back last week and I think it complemented us very well.
“The manager will choose his teams on a weekly basis, but if I keep playing well I’d like to think he’ll keep picking me, and I’ll certainly give it my all.”
“I’m very aware of the level of competition we’ve got here,” he concluded. “Training is intense and committed which is how it has to be. There’s been no hiding about the fact Dev [Jamie Devitt] was left out at the weekend and that he wasn’t happy. That’s how it is for all of us, because what we want most is to be out there and playing games.
“We’ve got a small squad, but it’s a squad full of players who would get in most teams in this division. When you’ve got players waiting in the wings you know you need to be on top of your game.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Gary Liddle on iFollow United now.