Manager Keith Hill has spoken openly and honestly to iFollow ahead of Tuesday night’s League One fixture against Charlton Athletic.
Dale make the trip to The Valley following Saturday’s defeat at Oldham, which sees the side occupy a bottom four spot.
“We’re having to deal with a lot of disappointment at this moment in time and during this period within our present and future at the football club,” said Hill.
“It’s difficult but we have to respond and we have to learn from defeat, as well as learning when we’re victorious. We have to use these situations to be motivated to grow, to be better and to be more experienced.
“It is very difficult but we’re fighting all the odds. We’re in a pressure situation, but we’re only in a pressure situation because of the unbelievable successes that we’ve created at this football club.
“We continue to try and strive to work hard to be better than we ever have been, and that’s why it hurts so much. Not just for me, but for the players, the supporters, the Chairman and the Board of Directors.
“Every manager asks for a sense of reality or a small molecule of reality but there is none in modern day football. It’s tough for the players but the players have got to do everything they possibly can to come out fighting, and I want the players to hide behind me. I’ve got to be a front for the players and the players have got to go through the emotional rollercoaster that will be there and evident and put upon them by our own supporters, which we expect because that’s just the way the football climate is.”
He continued: “I enjoy working for this football club and trying to supersede anything we’ve achieved before, but we’ve created a monster. We’ve created a monster of success at this football club and we’ve got to try and do it again this season.
“The players’ reality is that we’re in a relegation fight and we’re in it for the remainder of the season, and the outcome will depend on how good we are at fighting our opponents that are in the same position as us, or we’ll drip into that position.
“You’ve got to speak with a sense of reality but plan against it and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
And Hill believes that the players have got the fight in them.
“I’m not really bothered how that manifests as long as it comes out in the way that it should on a matchday. It has to be positive and it can’t become selfish – you’ve got to look after your team-mate and your team-mate has got to look after you.
“I believe that we’re good enough, I believe that we’re strong enough and I believe that we’ve got leaders of the way that we play, so the players have got to accept responsibility for the performance levels. I fully expect them to take on that challenge, but the challenge is there for everyone to see, the players included, and we want to rise to that challenge. That’s what I expect from the players.”
And Hill says the staff and players are working exceptionally hard to get back to winning ways.
“I have learned to accept pressure. As a manager, there’s a freedom but there’s also a responsibility for the situation that we’re in – whether it’s winning, losing or drawing – you never switch off. I always put pressure on myself, which is why we’ve been so successful at this football club. Desire follows but the actual product and performances don’t necessarily follow.
“We’re working exceptionally hard and the players are as well, but it’s not materialising in performances. If you were to speak to the players, every player to a soul would agree that everything we’re doing is in preparation for winning football matches. It’s not materialising, but whether that’s because the opposition are better than us, or whether we’re under-performing, or it could be a combination of both. But we’re trying to do everything we possibly can to make sure that we’re overachieving again this season.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow. In it, Hill gives an injury update.