MANAGER Des Lyttle is hoping the New Year can bring new hope for Hucknall Town after a spectacular start to 2012.
A miserable run of five straight defeats was brought to a halt by a 4-0 win away to local-derby rivals, Rainworth Miners Welfare.
And ex-Nottingham Forest defender Lyttle believes the revival in fortunes could have a lot to do with him adapting to life at Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Division One South level.
“I have learned a lot since I joined the club and I learned a lot in those five defeats,” said Lyttle this week.
“I am getting to understand football at this level. It is as much about mental attitude as about ability, whereas higher up the ladder, you don’t have to worry about that so much.”
Lyttle said he modelled Town’s performance at Rainworth on the shock victory by Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland against Manchester City on New Year’s Day.
“I used that in my team-talk,” he disclosed. “Sunderland’s win was all about desire, hunger and a will not to get beaten.
“I suddenly thought that’s what has been lacking in our side. It’s not just about passing the ball, it’s about hard work and the mental side of things.
“Once we have that spot-on, the football will take care of itself. We need players who are strong mentally.”
As if to prove his point, Lyttle sacked talented midfielder Curtis Shaw before the trip to Rainworth, frustrated by the former Mansfield Town man’s lack of application.
The 24-year-old Shaw made an explosive impact when re-joining The Yellows for a second spell in early November. But he was disciplined and dropped last month after internal transgressions that included turning up late for training.
“Curtis has so much ability, it is scary,” said Lyttle. “But for some reason, he keeps letting himself down.
“You can only give players so many chances. I need 11 players on the field who I can trust.
“From now on, I am going to prefer players with less ability but whom I know what I am going to get from, match by match.”
Town’s victory at Rainworth followed a public vote of confidence in Lyttle by the club’s new joint owner and chairman, Steve Greaves, amid discontent among fans.
“We believe in Des 100%,” said Greaves. “No-one can blame him for what is going on.
“He is taking the brunt of the criticism and he is beating himself up about it all. But it is my job to make sure he only takes criticism when it is fair and square.
“We keep finding skeletons in the cupboard and we have had to use the money we were going to invest in the squad on paying off debts.
“Most of our fans have been very understanding. They know Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Lyttle’s playing budget remains the same as it was when he first joined the club in October. Despite Monday’s win, an increase is likely to be needed before Town’s push for the promotion play-offs is resurrected. But the boss is happy to take one game at a time.
“It is not the strongest budget but, at the same time, it is not the weakest,” said Lyttle.
“If Steve wants to pump more money in, then I would take it with open arms. But all I want to concentrate on at the moment is winning games, regardless of the budget.
“There have been a few moans from the fans but I would expect that after losing five on the trot. Before then, we were unbeaten in eight and we need to get back to that kind of form.
“We are still in the promotion picture and if we can make the play-offs on the budget we are on now, then all the better.
“I now know the kind of players we need. If I can get them mentally right, then we won’t be far away from taking the club where it wants to be.
“We forget sometimes how close we were in the summer to not having a Hucknall Town Football Club at all.
“But the financial position is getting better and if we can all pull together, let’s see where it takes us.”