United made full use of a week without a Tuesday night game with boss Chris Beech giving his players Monday and Wednesday to recover, with training sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to make sure that the preparation has been done for what will be a tough game against Cheltenham.
“It’s been good because the players who travelled had a day of rest on Monday, trained hard on Tuesday, could take Wednesday off, and now go into the remaining training sessions refreshed and getting ready to play a very good opponent,” the manager told us.
“You can reflect a little bit, 11 league games is a quarter of the season, so we go into the second quarter, another 12 games and we’re halfway through. Normally that’s the Boxing Day’s fixture but I think it will be mid to end of January, but whenever it is we’ve got to get the next part of the season correct.
“It comes thick and fast, we’ve got to be ready. Hopefully the players can keep repeating and progressing, because it’s vital. I do believe, and this is knowing we’ve done well, that we aren’t where we could have been.
“The players have bought into what we want from them and that comes down to those traits I keep talking about. You’ve got to stay honest, work hard, represent yourselves and your families, and understand who you’re representing, which is the fans.
“Clubs never change, it’s the fans who are in my opinion the most prominent at a club – it’s their club, what they’re born into, what they look out for, and we represent that. We have to continue to try our best to do it properly.”
“That’s why we want them back,” he added. “It’s the biggest component that’s missing. There’s talk of a vaccine and maybe that will help, but they’d better give the vaccines first to the doctors and nurses, they should definitely get looked after.
“I hope the vaccine works and that it gives more confidence. What you want in football and business, there’s players having to look and deal with pandemic-type contract points and factors.
“If it can help remove those things and give more definites, it’s good for everybody. But it would be brilliant if we could share some of this with the fans.
“Nobody’s seen Jon Mellish score a goal live, or see somebody make their debut, Marcus’s family can’t share what he did on Sunday with him. Max has come ion and done well, and it’s hard on the players, hard on the fans, hard on the finance, and we’re really thankful for getting through.”
And confidence is high following what has been an excellent run of results.
“It’s good, we have been doing well, but like anything in life you can’t take it for granted,” he insisted. “Ultimately, and I keep repeating this, we’ve completed the first quarter of the season and that’s why we have to keep going.
“We’ve stuck to simple traits, and allowed those individual capabilities to come out of the team within our framework. Be individual by all means, but it’s from a framework.
“In team selections we’ve been pretty consistent with who’s played in the league, that’s helped relationships grow. There are always difficulties in bringing new groups together, especially in these times, socially you can’t do anything different other than work.
“Even in team meetings, even on a match day, your starting eleven get changed in one room and your subs get changed somewhere else. You have to think about all sorts to make sure there’s no missing link on information and what might happen.
“That’s an issue for everybody in football at the moment. It’s difficult but I’m thankful it’s gone well.”