IAN Holloway says Pool have rediscovered the belief required to give them a shot of getting to the Premier League.
And he’s so upbeat about the spirit and determination of his team that he wants to win not just today’s clash with Burnley, but next week’s final day showdown at Millwall too.
At the moment, his eyes are focused on today’s events at Bloomfield Road, where three points against the Clarets would seal the Seasiders’ top six place, and enable them to start turning their attention to the play-offs.
And Holloway – who welcomes back fit-again strikers Stephen Dobbie and Kevin Phillips – claims his troops are in the perfect state of mind to get the job done.
“In recent weeks, I think we’ve proved things to ourselves, rather than anyone else, that we truly believe we are capable of doing this,” said the manager.
“We had that slightly dodgy patch where we let a stupid goal in against Leicester, gave away a couple of goals to free headers at Reading – the goals we were conceding were silly.
“But we had a re-think, sat down and talked about it, then worked on improving things at the training ground, and I think we’ve proved that ‘hang on, we’re not bad now’.
“This little run of form – this unbeaten five-game run we are on – has come at just the right time, and I think the lads are in a very good place mentally.
“I’d be a liar if I told you ‘yes, we are going to do it’. No one knows who will go up. But I have a great feeling about this group, I have told them what I want them to do, and they are well on their way to doing it.”
What further improves Holloway’s mood is that his team have two opportunities to secure a play-off spot.
Middlesbrough, in seventh, trail Pool by four points.
That means that, unlike the last promotion season, when they only had one chance to keep hold of their top six spot – they needed to match or better Swansea’s score on the final day – this time they can afford to lose to Burnley, and still make the play-offs by beating Millwall.
“Whatever happens today we will go to Millwall wanting to win, because that’s the type of team we are, and I want us to finish as high up the table as we possibly can,” Holloway said.
“But the nice thing about it is that we have two bites at it. Basically, for two games, the minimum is that we have to match what Middlesbrough do.
“If Boro lose, we can lose. If they win, we have to win. If they draw, we can afford to draw.
“Last time it was a lot tighter and we got nervous. I don’t want any of that now.
“It is all about getting rid of the emotion and dealing with the process.
“You can’t think about things. You just have to know your job and do it, keep grounded and keep working hard.”
The boss added: “Basically we have a chance to finish fourth, fifth, or sixth, but we might also finish seventh.
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“We will finish one of those positions and I hope it is one of the higher ones.
“I want as many points as we can get and I want to keep going.
“My lads proved the other night against Leeds that they can keep their mind on the game and not get carried away with any emotion and just deal with it.
“We must do that again today. We are up against Burnley and some are calling it a local derby but all of that is irrelevant.
“We must play the way we want to and ignore what is riding on the outcome. If we do that, we will be fine. If we don’t, we go to Millwall next week and win there – simple!”