Jim Goodwin insists his Dundee United players “ran through brick walls for each other” to secure a precious cinch Premiership victory over Livingston on Saturday.
The 2-0 win at Tannadice came courtesy of goals from Jamie McGrath and Steven Fletcher.
It was the hosts’ third victory in a row and moved them four points clear of bottom-of-the-table Ross County, with United now just two behind St Johnstone sitting in ninth.
Goodwin has obviously made a big impact since he became United boss at the start of last month but he was adamant it is his players who deserve all the credit for the way they have answered their critics.
The Irishman revealed: “I said to the players after the game that there are times when a manager gets lots of pats on the back because a system has worked or the substitutions have worked.
“But that result and performance was nothing to do with me or the backroom team, that was all about the players in terms of the characteristics they showed.
“They have come in for criticism at times this season, maybe for being a bit weak or not as committed as people would like them to be but they ran through brick walls for each other.
“At 1-0 towards the end of the game, Livingston were throwing everything at us but the lads at the back stood up and were counted, winning crucial headers and protecting the goal.
“I couldn’t be more pleased for the players in general because as a group, they have been terrific for me since I came in. They are the ones who are going to keep the club in the league at the end of the day.”
As well as the win, Goodwin was also delighted with the clean sheet – United’s first in the Premiership since the start of January.
He added: “We have been trying to add different elements every week in training.
“Initially it was about coming in and being organised, putting a structure in place. This week the onus was on trying to defend our own goal.”
While the United players and fans celebrated at the final whistle there was despair for Livingston with the defeat ending their hopes of a top-six finish.
However, boss David Martindale insisted the finger of blame should be pointed at him, not his squad.
The 48-year-old admitted: “It’s a huge disappointment for the group. You saw them on the park, there were boys who fell to their knees, there were boys in tears.
“But I’m their leader and I’ll take accountability for that. I just feel huge disappointment for the club and the players.”