With every point picked over the course of his nine games in charge the question ‘are we safe yet’ has been levelled with increased regularity towards United boss Paul Simpson, particularly as the league table started to take on a much healthier appearance.
The importance of achieving the required points tally (and who can actually say what that is in such a tight division) as quickly as possible has always been the top priority for boss Paul Simpson, a message he repeated to his squad at their Thursday morning meeting.
“It’s getting close but we’re not quite there yet, unfortunately,” he said. “I’ve said all along that I thought 46 points would be enough, but you still can’t be confident of that.
“50 points is always a figure you think is enough, which is still one more win away. Stevenage have still got a game in hand on us, which I know is a difficult game against Mansfield for them, but we’ve just got to keep going.
“Even if we win on Saturday and get to 50 points, I’m not going to say we’ll just have a little break for the last five games and do what we want.
“Since the Tranmere game I’ve had time on my hands because I’ve been here on my own, and I’ve watched the last five or six games back and identified a few areas that we consistently aren’t doing very well.
“I’ve clipped bits and put some slides together, and I was probably quite heavy handed with the players on Thursday.
“Not in a physical way, just in how I’ve spoken to them, because I want those things to be better. It has to be better if we want to try and raise standards, and I want to see a reaction to it.
“It’s not rocket science, it’s really simple stuff, but if you do the simple things right then you’ve got half a chance of being successful.
“I’m hoping the Thursday meeting and the work we’ve done, and the last bits we’ll do on Friday will make us better and we can keep moving forward as a team and a club.”
Speaking more about how he approached Thursday with his players, he commented: “The players realised that as far as I’m concerned there’s still a lot of work to do.
“It started in the meeting we had before training where it was made clear that I’m not going to let up. I don’t want to let up.
“We’re all scrapping for all sorts of different reasons, with people at different stages of their careers, and we’re all trying to do everything we can to keep a really positive group of supporters happy.
“If we do that, and we go through the Bradford game and we’re still getting that positive feeling, it’ll be the same for us all through the summer. Whenever pre-season starts there’ll be a real buzz around the club, and that’s what you have to do.
“You’re always being tested, you’re always on show, whether that’s on or off the grass, and if you’ve got any pride about the way you do your job you’ll continue to do it as well as you possibly can.”
And that’s a message that, judging from the results from the past nine games, has very much resonated in the dressing room.
“They really have bought into it, they’ve been fantastic,” he told us. “They’ve gone about things in a way which means we’ve had a really good time of it.
“We’ve had two losses, and a draw, but the rest have been wins and that’s really positive. I want to carry it on.
“Whatever sport you play, whether it’s in Sunday league, as an amateur, or as a professional, it’s all so much better when you win. It’s such a lovely feeling to get.
“It’s not all about winning, but it doesn’t half make a difference when you do. For us in our situation, it obviously is all about winning and getting the points we need to be safe.
“Last week we ground out a draw, so last week’s point will be even bigger if we get three this weekend.”