Jim McNulty has spoken openly and honestly about Dale’s current form, and how he’s drawing on previous experiences during this time…
“This is one of the toughest times I’ve gone through at any football club,” McNulty told iFollow.
“Although everything in terms of the human reaction doesn’t want to support each other during times like this, it would rather attack each other, sticking together is the only thing that’s going to see us through.
“It’s a difficult time, there’s no question about that, but the Gaffer takes stock of all these things quite well. He’s regularly – to the day and even to the hour – taking stock of what we’ve got and what we need.
“He’s a realist – he’s a dreamer as well, but he’s a realist and he knows where we’re at and he’ll know what we’re lacking.
“The players are fighting for the manager, for the shirt and for each other. That’s happening, but for whatever reason, we’re falling short at this particular time. We’ve just got to attack the next block of games together.”
McNulty was part of the Barnsley squad that survived relegation from the Championship on the final day of the 2013 season, and he says he will draw on that experience during this difficult time. He also believes he and the other senior professionals have a big part to play in guiding the young players through it.
“I’ve been in these things before and I’ve gone to the last day a couple of times, and fortunately for me I’ve never been relegated in my career. I would hate that blot on my CV.
“We’re staring down the barrel of that, there’s no denying that. I know it’s a cliché when people say don’t look at the table, but I actually don’t because I don’t want it to affect my mental state. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t asking how the other teams have got on, because I’m asking as soon as I come in, but the Gaffer has been saying quite a lot at the minute that we need to play the opponent/ game and not the league, and we need to play each game as it comes.
“I was with the Gaffer during a very difficult period at Barnsley, where the fans completely turned on us. That hasn’t happened here – we’re being supported, which is great. It’s fully expected that fans will have a moan and a groan, because it’s fully deserved when the players aren’t showing enough of what they’ve seen here over the last few years.
“As one of the older players in the group, the Gaffer needs the likes of myself, Hendo, Keano, Calvin and Josh Lillis just to try and take care of the young boys’ mentalities throughout this period, because it’s easy to go into your shell and for your shoulders go down, rather than sticking your chest out in this period.
“But it’s also difficult being a senior pro because you go home thinking ‘am I doing enough? Am I providing enough stimulus for the young boys? Am I telling them off in training as much as I need to?’. We’re always taking stock of are we, as senior pros, doing enough, because we can be very important for the squad’s health during this moment in time.”
McNulty, who has been an unused substitute in four of Dale’s last five league games, can be seen going through the emotional rollercoaster of every match from the side lines, and he says this is about giving the players his support.
“I’m here and Rochdale is part of me now. I’m part of this team, this squad and this club. It’s in me and it upsets me when I lose. Whether I’m playing or not, I feel like I’ve still got a lot to offer the boys who are playing, and I want to support them.
“Kgosi, for example, is playing in my position at the minute and I think he is doing brilliantly. Seven days a week, I’m here to support him.
“I don’t want him to feel threatened by a senior player, because I know when I was coming up and developing, that the mentality wasn’t to support a young player, it was to supress him, but I’m not about that.
“By helping him along, we all get better. We’ve all got to support each other so that’s why I’m out warming up all game, because I’m trying to support the boys.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.