Manager Keith Hill has praised his players for sticking to a long-term plan, resulting in a remarkable run of form which has seen Rochdale lose just two of their last 14 games.
Reflecting on the progress made since March, Hill believes the side’s steady approach has helped Dale move out of the relegation zone with two matches of the season remaining.
“The response from the players since the turn of the year, and since we got knocked out of the FA Cup, has been marvellous. For us to make up the points like we have done is fair credit to them”, said Hill.
“After exiting the FA Cup, we had a meeting to say, listen, there’s no miracle formula to getting out of the bottom four. I told the players to get comfortable in there, because I knew we’d be in there for a long time. I told them not to write themselves off and to keep plodding on because they’d probably be in the bottom four until the last game of the season.
“As it happens, we’ve managed to get ourselves out of the bottom four with two games to go, after methodically going about our own processes without taking care or consideration to anybody else.
“It was always a long-term plan, from that point when we had 26 points from 30 games and we were rock bottom. Bury were above us and Northampton were 12 points ahead of us, so those were the process that we’ve gone through.
“I made sure that the players knew the enormity of the task and that it wasn’t going to happen overnight. It was about what happened over the course of the remaining 16 games and we’re still sticking to those principles with two games to go. These two games are really important for us to maintain to maintain our league one life.”
Rochdale face an Oxford United side who currently side 16th in the Sky Bet League One table.
The U’s were 1-0 winners over Doncaster Rovers last weekend, and Hill believes Karl Robinson, who took over the managerial reigns at Saturday’s opponents at the end of March, is starting to make his mark on the squad.
“We’ve got two games left and they are two difficult games against very good opponents, so who knows what’s going to happen.
“I think Oxford are safe, when you look at the permutations of the games that are still to be played.
“Karl is an experienced manager, it’s a good football club and there’s a very good squad of players there. It looks like, given recent results, that his methods are now working on the squad of players that he has inherited, and I think Oxford will be a big player in League One next season otherwise Karl wouldn’t have gone there.
“On Saturday, we have to be competitive, we have to nullify the opponent’s threats and we have to enjoy it.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.