United’s rapid run of fixtures continues tonight as they face Tranmere Rovers up here at Brunton Park.
We spoke to boss Chris Beech ahead of the game.
“They’re another good, strong side and they’re doing great at the moment,” he said. “Looking back, let’s be right, under Micky Mellon’s reign the points per game system was what did for them.
“They dug in hard at the end of the season and they’re probably not getting relegated with the run they were on. It’s ifs, buts and maybe, but they were winning games at that point when other clubs were really struggling for wins.
“But points per game kicked in and they were out of League One. That was so tough for them because the players, the squad, they’re really a League One team. They had to accept that and I think that’s so difficult for them.
“They still have many of those players who were playing well and picking up those points. We’ll need to concentrate and be at our best to compete with them.”
The game brings another meeting with a man he knows so well – Keith Hill.
“Keith’s doing well, isn’t he,” he commented. “I think it was a circumstance that he’s probably never inherited before, because he usually goes somewhere when a club is struggling.
“Let’s think, he’s been at Rochdale twice, Barnsley, Bolton and now Tranmere. Five situations and he’s probably never inherited one that’s on a crest of a wave to get the opportunity.
“I helped and worked with him and I will say, as I’ve said when I’ve been working with him, he is one of the best managers outside the Premier League.”
With just two points separating the teams in the table, it’s yet another fixture where both teams will be going all out to secure the victory.
“Everybody wants the three points for their own reasons,” he confirmed. “I never accept defeat because I want this team to do as well as it can.
“We now have to do our best to create something we can tangibly touch. There are no guarantees other than we have 21 opportunities to repeat what we did in the first half of the season. When those opportunities are still there, we are so hungry and ambitious to get the most out of all of them.
“Our players came here in the summer to improve themselves and the club, and that’s been the case. We have players stepping up, trying different things, lads making their football league debuts and achieving new things.
“What we need from everybody is for them to get back to their best. We were very close to it but not quite there on Saturday, but it’ll come. We’ll have some negative situations between now and the end of the season, but we’ll have some great positive ones as well.
“Let’s stay in focus and not get too involved in drama, and recognise that every game is about three points. If you don’t get them look at why that is, then move on and work hard to get the next ones that are available.”
“When it comes to selection, the team is picked to win games and we have two or three lads who aren’t getting changed at the moment,” he continued. “That’s just football. As an individual just keep doing the right things and when the opportunity clicks in you take it.
“If I hadn’t done what I did with selection at the weekend Salford would have had the freedom in the middle of the park which they get at every home game, hence why they’ve got such a great record.
“That’s why we sometimes play players in certain roles and positions. It’s all with the aim of winning the game. As far as I’m concerned you’ve got to utilise your squad to the maximum, that’s all part of everybody being here.
“It’s up to all of them to make sure they’re showing that they want to support what we’re trying to achieve. Fair play to everybody because they’re giving everything in that.
“It’s great, who knows what we’ll do for Tranmere. We’ll see who is looking and feeling good and we’ll get ready for that game.
“We know what’s coming. It’s Saturday-Tuesday, eat, sleep rest and repeat, that’s all you can do. We’re in the run of it now and we know what we want to achieve.”