I remember one game, at home to Swindon. We had a man sent off in the first half, and went 1-0 down to the resulting penalty. We still thought we could win it, so we went for it and ended up losing 3-0.
The reverse fixture at their place was on Boxing Day, so we got the team in on Christmas Day. At half-time the day after, it was 0-0 – but we were the better team, and in the second half we showed it.
We won 5-0, and missed a chance in injury time to make it six. The players were gutted. They wanted 10.
That group had such a desire, and they were playing a brand of football that raised my reputation through the roof. It wasn’t just winning games, it was how we were doing it. At home, we felt like we were untouchable.
“I had worked at Championship clubs, and this was a Championship side”
That continued into League One.
I knew the squad was young, hungry, athletic and had a lot of goals in it. When we went up, I came out to the press and made it clear that we were on schedule.
“We’re not consolidating. We want to go straight through.”
I saw it with my own eyes. I had worked at Championship clubs, and this was a Championship side. I watched training sometimes, and the quality they had was breathtaking – it belonged in a different league. But they were good characters too, and they were doing it with humility.