United boss Paul Simpson was full of praise for his players following the weekend win over Bristol Rovers as he was quizzed over where the current run of form had come from - with 18 points taken from a possible 21 since his arrival.
“They want to do this and that’s why it’s happening,” he insisted. “It isn’t a case of letting up, they say all the right things, they do all the right things, they’re preparing properly and they’re enjoying it.
“I challenged them to be the best professionals they can be, and for that they’ll be judged on their work ethic. They’ve given us that and nobody can criticise them for it.
“Their work rate was incredible again at the weekend and the way they did the ugly side of the game with the defending, the blocks and the heading was phenomenal.
“We had the keeper making saves when he was needed, and that’s how you earn results. I’ve just said to the players, football isn’t always pretty, you can’t always play the silky stuff, you have to earn the right, and we did that against a really good Bristol Rovers side.
“I will say this, I still think Rochdale are the best footballing team we’ve seen, but it’s a massive win for us. When you look at what’s gone on around us, and it’s now a 15-point gap between us and second bottom, that’s huge.
“But we still have to keep going. I don’t want to settle on this, I don’t want eight games where I’m disappointed with the performances.
“When you ask who is writing this script, just thank the players because they’re the ones who have gone out there and done it. They’ve been magnificent from day one for us.”
“I keep saying this, but I’m really pleased with what’s gone on, I’m pleased with the job I’m doing here, but it really is about the players,” he added.
“If the players don’t go about their business in this way, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking about any of this. While we are doing it, I’ll enjoy it as well, because it’s certainly making my life easier.
“I’m happy to take praise for this, I have no problem at all with good things being said. There’s myself, Gav, Paul Gerrard, Jacob, Greg and Col, who is doing the kit and looking after the players, everybody deserves it.
“And it doesn’t half make our lives better. If we win games of football it’s not just everybody else who goes to work on a Monday who has a good week, it’s us as well. It makes my Saturday night much better.
“But we know that football matches come round thick and fast so it’s on to looking at Rochdale and what they do. It will be really nice from a personal point of view, and from the players’ point of view, if we can go to Rochdale and come away with another three points.”
One of the key messages when he first came into the club was when he challenged the players to make sure everything they did was geared towards keeping this club in the Football League.
“It’s a message that does seem to have hit home, but that was the challenge for us all,” he told us. “We can’t hide away from this, we’re the ones who got ourselves into that situation and we were the only ones who could change it.
“There was no talk of me being able to bring extra bodies in to help the squad, and the only thing I was allowed to bring in was a member of staff. I’m really pleased that I chose Paul Gerrard and I’m really pleased that we stuck with Gav, he’s been excellent in helping me in the situation we’re in.
“Those players had to stand up and be counted and they’ve certainly risen to that. Even the lads who aren’t getting games at the moment are keeping the standard right in training.
“Between now and the end of the season, it could even be Tuesday, some of them will be called upon. Everybody out there at the weekend was shattered come the end of the game.
“We had people getting cramp, and that hasn’t happened during my time at the club, but I hope we have many more games where the players are shattered as well.”
“We’ve shown in patches what we’re capable of, and one of the things I challenged the players for ahead of the weekend was for them to believe in themselves,” he revealed. “I wanted them to believe that they’ve got the ability to be able to cause problems for any team.
“I think we did that in patches in this game, maybe not as much as we would like, but football isn’t just about playing good football, it’s about doing the other sides of it as well.
“I think we did the hard work so well, and if we keep going they will start to believe in themselves even more. If they put that belief on top of the work ethic they have, we won’t go far wrong.”
Coaches and managers often talk about the things that come ‘free’ when it comes to players crossing the white line, but there’s no doubt the current group have gone the extra yard in their quest to keep the good run going.
“I’m delighted, but I think that’s a personal choice,” he said. “You have a decision to make about whether you’re happy or whether you’re going to work hard to take yourself as far as you can.
“Some people’s working hard is harder than others, but I don’t care. Whatever you do to take yourself to your maximum, you have to run yourself into the ground every single game as far as I’m concerned.
“If you do that the ability starts to come through. We’ve talked about desire, and that sort of stuff, but we’ve also played some good football.
“There was a heck of a lot of good stuff, and that went on top of the desire to keep the ball out of the back of the net from everybody. Long may that continue.”
“Look, the players have been excellent. I’m really happy because they’re making my life very good, making people talk positively about me.
“That’s what you want as a manager, you want a group of players who are going to go out and do the business on the grass, whoever you pick, or whoever has to come on and finish the game. You just want them to go and do their job.
“I don’t think it’s a lot to ask, to ask them to go and do it. That’s all I’m doing, they’re the ones going out and doing it. We’ve got eight more though, let’s not forget about that.
“We’ve got a lovely cushion between ourselves and second bottom, we’ve eight games that we have to take as many points as we can from. What we don’t want is coming in towards the end of the season and have a horrible April, and everybody moaning and unhappy with it.
“Let’s have a really good April. We’ve had a good March, with one to go. Let’s have a really good April as well and make it a strong finish to the season.”