Manager Keith Hill believes Saturday’s defeat to Mansfield Town has helped refocus the team ahead of the final four games of the season.
Hill is honest in his reflection on the match in which Dale were beaten by three second half goals, and says the focus is firmly on the remaining fixtures.
“The first rule of the game is to concentrate on what you can affect,” Hill told www.rochdaleafc.co.uk.
“Arguably Saturday was the worst performance that we’ve had for a long time, individually and collectively, and the worst result we’ve had for a long time too.
“It was a poor performance against a very honest side. The challenge was there for Mansfield to knock us off our perch and I think they enjoyed it. We didn’t enjoy the feeling after the game or the celebratory scenes from the Mansfield supporters and players – it hurt. It hurts when you can hear the opposition changing rooms celebrating like they’ve won the World Cup or the Copa Del Rey. But the minutest positive that came from it was that with four games to go we’re really in no worse position.
He continued: Really the focus is on the four games and I’ve just had to re-address that with the players.
“It’s very tempting to get involved with the background noise because it’s as though the season is closing down as we’re getting ballot forms for Players’ Player of the Year etc, but it’s not the end and we’re nowhere near the end of the season.
“Since the turn of the year and the 23 game mark, we’ve been exceptional, so Saturday’s defeat has been a call to re-focus.
“And I believe that the game has probably helped us. I believe it has helped us re-focus because you can get carried along with the sideshows when really all we’ve got to do is remain focused on our job, not what other teams are doing. It’s there for us to achieve and nobody can take it away from us if we do what we need to do over the next four games. It has been an unbelievable season so far and I trust the players to continue that this season.”
On Friday’s game, Hill commented: “We’re playing an opposition in Southend who are in good form themselves. It’s a pressure game I suppose, or it’s perceived as a pressure game for both Southend and us, whereas last weekend Mansfield were playing with freedom for three points and seeing how far they’ve possibly come pitting their wits against the league leaders. There’s an enormous amount of pressure on both teams and it’s who deals with the pressure and who performs best under that pressure at the weekend, but not only that, the three games after that.”
The full interview is on Dale Player.