Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes admits the criticism during a club record goalless streak did affect some of his players.
The Dons were in the firing line during a six-game slump without victory that also saw them suffer the worst barren scoring run in the club’s 118-year history.
It was a crash in form that toppled the Dons off third spot – but McInnes reckons the commitment of his players never waned during those tough times.
Which is why he was delighted they finally ended that barren run by defeating Kilmarnock 1-0.
However, that much-needed win in the battle for third came at a cost as on-loan Stade de Reims striker Fraser Hornby suffered a thigh injury.
McInnes said: “We have a lot of young players and young or old, it can affect them when they get criticised.
“I just take pleasure in the players getting the rewards for their efforts, because I can see how committed they are.
“It’s only one win, but it was badly needed.
“It has been a tough spell, but I think it’s a reminder you have to enjoy the good times more.
“That’s something I’ve maybe learned. When you play for this club and manage this club there are demands.
“It’s trying to keep that balance, for everyone having a go or having a comment you have to accept that when you work for this club.
“We are better than most teams, we are not as bad as people say – but we still have to go and win games of football.
“I told the players before the game we are the fourth best team in the country, but to get to being third best we have to start winning more games.”
Aberdeen suffered a blow in the 20th minute when Hornby limped off, having suffered a thigh injury while shooting at goal.
McInnes said: “It doesn’t look good, it’s a pull at the top of his thigh, which is a bit of a concern.
“It wasn’t his kicking foot when he took the shot on. It was more when he was sprinting and running – on his left side.
“It may be a consequence of not playing much football and being thrown into it. It may be a fatigue-based issue and hopefully he is not out too long.”
On-loan St Johnstone striker Callum Hendry was brought on as replacement for Hornby.
And Hendry netted with his first touch of the game when heading home a Niall McGinn free-kick.
McInnes said: “I felt we started the way we finished at Celtic Park.
“Just as we felt we were settling into the game, Fraser Hornby gets injured and we have had a few of them this season now.
“However, Callum came on and scored a great goal which was enough to win the game for us.
“It was a great header from Callum. We know he is good in the air and he competes so well.
“Like any striker when they come to a new club they want to get off the mark, so it was great for him.”
Aberdeen came close to doubling their advantage when Ross McCrorie rattled the crossbar with a powerful shot.
With eight Premiership games remaining in the season the Reds trail third-placed Hibernian by four points with the Easter Road side also holding a game in hand.
McInnes said: “At this stage of the season and on the back of the run we’ve been on everyone would accept we needed the points.
“We had good moments in the game and had to deal with the physicality and directness of Kilmarnock.
“They went direct when Kyle Lafferty came on and we had to deal with that first ball.
“Then the game became a bit more frantic. Subconsciously for our boys, when we have been on such a poor run, it was maybe just about getting it over the line.”