Matthew Bates says keeping Hartlepool United in the Football League would go down as his greatest achievement in football.
And he’s encouraged his players to chase the same dream.
This is an opportunity of a lifetime for the lads to go and achieve somethingMATTHEW BATES
Bates takes his team to Cheltenham on Saturday in a relegation six-pointer as the 21st-placed Robins host managerless Pools in 23rd.
Pools are staring the National League in the face with Bates and fellow interim coaches Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher have been handed the mother of all challenges.
Back-to-back wins are a must for Pools this Saturday and at home to Doncaster seven days later.
Bates said: “We are now the ones doing the chasing and we’re relying on other teams,” said the 30-year-old.
“We could win two games and still go down.
“We need to go out and do it.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for the lads to go and achieve something.
“OK, we did not want this at the start of the season, but we are here and that is our message for the two games.
“Cheltenham will be nervous that we are chasing them.”
Bates says he will send out Pools with the aim of expressing themselves and with the minimum of instructions.
“Especially with young players, the more information given I think is more detrimental,” explained the defender who does not want his team wracked with nerves.
“It puts too much in their heads.
“We’ll give them certain bits of info, but it will be short and sweet then it will be up to them to go out and do it.
“I want the team to go out knowing what they are doing.
“I know I’ve got to try to take some of those nerves away from them.”
Bates is just three days into his tenure following the dismissal of Dave Jones.
He acknowledges there is pressure on him but says the fact he has overcome career-threatening injury after career-threatening injury that he has the mental steel required for such a task.
“It’s been frantic, daunting in a way because you have so many people relying on you,” he said.
“I’ve had injuries and always fought back, I’ve been written off and I’ve always got back.
“I am enjoying it so far.”
The temporary boss says he has not changed in his manner with the players, though joked that some call him “gaffer” and some “Batesy”.
He added: “I have not gone in there any differently, I’ve just been myself,” he said.
“I can’t change how I am with them, they want what I want, they want what everyone wants – to stay up.
“The reaction was brilliant from them, I mean that, and I think they are excited for the weekend.”