United head to the Crown Oil Arena as one of the division’s form teams tonight, but assistant boss Gav Skelton spoke about what he expects to be a tough game against a team that has been playing some excellent football, despite having suffered a run of disappointing results.
“I thought they were really good that night when we played them up here,” he said. “Footballing wise they’ve stuck to their system all season.
“Robbie Stockdale, his first job in in management, he’s highly respected and he’s done well at other clubs. He’s got a way of playing and they move the ball well.
“They caused us problems with the amount of possession and they probably thought they were unfortunate on the night. Fortunately we had that bit of quality in front of goal and hopefully that can stay the same tomorrow night.”
“Going into this one, you don’t know how Rochdale are in terms of confidence and things like that,” he continued. “We’re looking forward to it, but we’re under no illusions how hard we have to work for it.
“Rochdale are a good side, desperate for a win themselves, and you do hear exceptional things about their manager.
“It comes back to us, we need to make sure we’re right mentally and physically, attack the game, be on that front-foot, show that positivity and try and win the game, which we have in the last six of seven.
“But we know Rochdale want the win and any game at this level is dangerous. Me and Gez went to watch them against Mansfield last week, and they were unlucky not to at least take a point.
“It was a tight game and they’ve had many tight games. They’ll be hoping that turns, but we’ve got to take care of ourselves.
“We don’t want to give them a leg up by not being at our normal standard. They’ve got good players and we need to be at our game.”
The Blues have won all three of their away games under the new gaffer so far, with the aim to add more to the tally as the search for points continues.
“It’s pleasing, and it’s obviously a lot more enjoyable when you’re winning games,” Skelton told us. “It’s like anyone connected to the club, you want that next game to come round.
“You never want to lose that winning feeling, because it’s much better, gives you more energy and enjoyment, and you feed off each other.
“You feel it when you’re out and about, people are so much more positive and that’s great - it's all through winning games.
“Football doesn’t change. Other stuff comes under scrutiny when you’re not winning games, when you are winning it’s all about the 90 minutes and that’s why want things to continue in a positive fashion.
“No matter what you say, results determine a lot of things, it’s the way sport is. It’s that feeling, and then you have to work harder, people are aware of how good form you’re on, so you can’t surprise them or anything.
“We want to win as many games as we can, whether you’re looking up or down the way, you just want to win a game of football. Especially the season we’ve had, which has been difficult at times, we want to keep winning games and try and look up the way as well.”
“Six or seven games ago, at Leyton Orient, we came out positively, that fed from the support to the players, and a positive result can roll onto the next one,” he added. “But we’re not kidding ourselves, we know how quickly it can turn. We’re desperate to keep it going.
“Winning hopefully becomes a habit, we want to continue that, but we’re definitely not taking our eyes off the ball. There will be bumps in the road and football does kick you up the backside, but we want that to be a long way down the road, further down the eight games in.
“Our main focus is making sure we’re right, after a tough game on Saturday. All our focus is on making sure we’re right mentally, and physically, and going to Rochdale for what we know is going to be a difficult game.
“We remember the home game, we won 2-0, the last-minute goal put a gloss on the result. For long periods of the game Rochdale were a good team, thankfully we rode that but we know there’s not many better footballing sides in the league.”
Having picked up 18 points in such a short space of time, we wondered if he could put a finger on what has caused this dramatic upturn in fortunes.
“Just keeping everything nice and calm, straightforward, simple messages, making sure everyone’s in a good place physically and mentally,” he explained. “We’ve got a couple of positive results and he’s kept that ball rolling.
“But you never know what’s round the corner in football, so that message stays the same, that focus is the same, demands are still the same.
“We’re on a good run but we want that run to be even better and win the next one, and the next one, and make sure football doesn’t kick you up the backside.
“We still want to get wins, until we’re mathematically safe we won’t settle. And even then we want to keep the positivity and the runs going.
“That’s just the way it is. The next one’s the most important, you want to win that game. You don’t want that feeling, waking up Wednesday if you haven’t done yourselves justice or haven’t got a positive result.”