Paul Ince hopes Blackpool have turned the corner after a run he described as “terrible”.
Despite being dumped out of the FA Cup 2-1 at Bolton on Saturday, Pool turned in an excellent second-half performance which earned a positive response from the 2,400 travelling supporters.
It comes after a week of fans calling for the manager’s head as Pool’s poor run was extended to seven defeats in eight games, with many supporters yet to be convinced about the manager’s futures.
Tom Barkhuizen’s stunning first-half equaliser was to no avail as goals by David Ngog and Jermaine Beckford earned Bolton a fourth-round home tie against Cardiff, but Ince was happy with his side and with the supporters.
“I thought we were absolutely fantastic on Saturday, I really did,” the manager said.
“I’m gutted to be out of the cup but I’m happy. The performances haven’t been great of late but I’ve always said that once we got players back we’d be much better.
“I’m disappointed we aren’t in the next round because we absolutely murdered Bolton in the second half. We just needed that bit of luck.
“Their keeper (David Lonergan) pulled off three or four world-class saves and Bash (Chris Basham) hit the post.”
As for the supporters, Ince added: “I thought the fans were unbelievable on Saturday. When we play like we did they will back us.
“The fans carried us through the game and that’s exactly what we needed.”
While critics can point to yet another defeat, Ince is hopeful Saturday’s display will restore the fans’ belief.
Ince realises that another poor result at home to Middlesbrough next weekend would quickly see the negativity return, but the Pool boss said: “Hopefully they’ll come to Saturday’s game with a bit more optimism than they had before.
“It’s been a terrible, terrible Christmas but hopefully we are improving.
“The backing from the fans is the most important thing for us.
“If they see us fighting and playing like we did against Bolton, they’ll be happy.”
Barkhuizen’s wonderstrike put Pool level at half-time but it took only six minutes of the second half for Beckford to fire the winner.
However, Ince feels a foul on Gary MacKenzie in the build-up should have seen that goal ruled out.
“I’m disappointed about their second goal. I thought it was a foul on Gary,” said the Pool boss.
“Beckford was on the wrong side and nudged him over. It was a foul.
“I thought we were much the better side but we need to concentrate on the Championship now.
“You’d like to think that when you play well you get a little bit of luck, but things just didn’t fall for us.”