Manager Paul Simpson enjoyed his first unbroken week of training this week, having been through a run of three games in ten days as part of the hectic introduction to his new role.
But what two away games and three victories did provide was an opportunity to get to know the players, and vice versa, with there being no time or place to hide for anybody with the situation the club was faced with.
“They all seem in a really good place, which you’d expect after three wins,” the United boss told us.
“The big thing I said to them at the start of the week was let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s make sure we realise where we are, we’re still in a real dogfight and a scrap. We’ve just got to keep doing the simple things right.
“If we do all the basics right, hopefully the ability the players have got will still flourish and start to come through even more than it did in the second half at Oldham.
“People often talk about a manager losing a dressing room, or a new manager bounce, but I don’t really go for that sort of thing.
“I don’t think it was important whether they took to me, all I want is them to work for each other. They’re at a football club which has got a scrap on their hands, I’ve come into join it and see if I can help with a different voice.
“I’ve been really pleasantly surprised so far, when you’re at the bottom of the table people will often say there’s a lack of commitment or lack of quality, but they haven’t shown that at all.
“They showed a real desire and commitment in the first game against Orient, and there was a togetherness there which has improved with getting results.
“We’ve just got to make sure we carry it on and ride this wave of momentum we’ve got, and hopefully the players keep responding in the same way.”
As revealed by forward Kristian Dennis when he spoke to the press earlier in the week, a sense of calmness in the dressing room has helped with focus across the group.
“I said from day one I just wanted to try and free them up a little bit,” the gaffer commented. “Mind you, they don’t know how frantic I am behind the doors of the office.
“In coaching you have to paint a smile on and go out, and it’s a performance you have to put on. I’m just trying to put on a performance that gets the right reaction from the players.
“We will have some downtime, we understand that, I’d love it to happen but I can’t see the 12 games going all swimmingly well and we finish with 15 straight wins. It’s going to be tough, we’re going to hit a brick wall at some point, and we have to make sure that we don’t let it affect us too badly.
“The good thing is that the players are winning individual battles, and that always gives you a start. That’s what players have to do. They have to do those little nitty gritty things, and if you can do the basics well you’ve got half a chance.
“If you’ve actually got a bit of ability on top of that then you’ve got a real good chance of being successful. That’s what the players have shown.
“I’m told there was a spell earlier in the season where they got a few results and won some games, now we’ve got to do it again and be more consistent. We were in the bottom two when I got here because we deserved to be, after 31 games it isn’t unfortunate, that’s where you deserve to be.
“We’ve got to make sure in the last 15 games we don’t finish in the bottom two. In this mini-league, which I think was from 16th downwards when I came in, we’ve got to make sure we finish at least third bottom. I would love to finish at the top of that mini-league.”
The desire shown by the players under his stewardship is an aspect which has brought a positive reaction from the fans.
“I think they showed it before we had the momentum of winning, they showed it at Orient,” he said. “That comes from within. You have a choice as to whether or not you go all-out or just want to coast along and get through it.
“I don’t know whether they coasted along before, but they’ve certainly given their all since I’ve been in the building.
“I haven’t had a cattle prod to get them going, they’ve got themselves going. Maybe the environment, maybe a change of face and voice, maybe the fact I’ve just gone a little bit less tactical and let them go and play and feel freer to do what they need to do.
“When you get results that frees you up a little bit anyway, when you get a second one it frees you up even more.
“We’ve got to keep going so we don’t get to that point that the freedom becomes a little bit inhibitive, and also when we do have a little setback, they stay with it, get it to the back of their minds and continue to do the right things, which has got us the results so far.”
“I’ve been massively impressed with how the fans have reacted, but not surprised, because I’ve experienced it before,” he concluded. “I’ve been really fortunate to have been here when we’ve had bumper crowds in home and away.
“The support we had at Orient took me aback a little bit, the support at Oldham was fantastic. We got an increase for the home game against Rochdale.
“I’m led to believe there’s going to be an increase again this weekend. Not only does it help the players but it also helps the club in terms of money coming in, that’s got to make it better going forward.”
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