As a busy January transfer window comes to a close, Manager Keith Hill looks ahead to the final 16 games of the season.
Dale travel to Walsall on Saturday having dropped into the bottom four due to results elsewhere in midweek, but Hill says his side are in a position where they can take care of their own business.
“They players are aware [of being in the relegation zone] but we spoke about it prior to going into the bottom four,” said Hill.
“We knew that at some point we would be in the bottom four. It’s not due to results midweek, it’s due to our results.
“We have to affect what we can which is our games. From a psychology point of view, you’ve got to play each game individually and focus on what your ambitions are, what your targets are, for the 16 games.
“You have to turn a blind eye to everything else. We have got to play a lot of the teams in and around us, below us, just above us.
“I wouldn’t rule out teams on 38 or 39 points as being involved, depending on form guides, etc. You can soon slide into it.
“We have got the experience of last season, which we didn’t like, but we’re in the same sort of situation again and it’s going to take a big fight for us.
“I believe the lads are prepared to fight. There’s a good atmosphere and a good spirit amongst the squad, and we have to deliver. It’s a good pressure that I’m sensing and believing in. It’s not a negative pressure, it’s not a ‘give up’ pressure.
“But the belief has to grow with results and we’re in a position now where we have to get results, and that’s how important it is. You can’t fear it, you’ve got to attack it, embrace it, and you shouldn’t fear the future.
“Belief has to be supported with performances and results. Results are the key component in any sport, so we’re aiming for positive results.”
Dale were narrowly beaten at Barnsley last weekend, but Hill was pleased with the performance and wants the players to retain their belief.
“I thought the last performance against Barnsley was a positive one, and we should have probably done more when we were winning the game, to see the game out.
“That’s just a learning curve against one of the best teams in the league, who will be contesting automatic promotion.
“We pushed them all the way at their own ground, and we’ve got to do it again against Walsall.
“It’s a different game, under different circumstances. You could argue it’s a six-point game, but it’s just another game.
“I remember last season going to Scunthorpe. Somebody from a local radio station said to me after the game, 'basically that’s you relegated now'.
“We weren’t relegated, we were five points cut adrift and we knew we could make those points up, which we did.
“It’s never a situation where you can’t achieve. You’ve got to retain your belief as long it’s feasible and attainable.
“We’re in a position where we can take care of our own business regardless of who we’re playing, and that’s what is good about football and us as Rochdale Football Club trying to retain our League One status.”
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