Sam Allardyce's believes his expert man-management of the Sunderland players was a key factor in the club's successful battle against the drop.
Experienced Allardyce insists managing the players off the pitch is now one of the "biggest parts" of the modern-day football manager's role.
And the 61-year-old certainly got the best out of his squad, leading them to Premier League survival with a game to spare.
It comes as we launched the first batch of results from our Big Sunderland AFC Survey.
Allardyce’s man management skills came out on top when we asked fans what his single best quality was, with his dealings in the transfer market polling 18.5 per cent of votes after a successful January window.
The former Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and West Ham United boss faced a tough challenge in his first eight months on Wearside, with several high-profile off the field issues including the sacking of Adam Johnson and resignation of former chief executive Margaret Byrne.
Allardyce was pleased to see his players stick together and achieve their ultimate aim of remaining in the top flight.
"There are times when you have difficulties, and we had those to overcome," said Allardyce.
"It is all about sticking together to try to get out the other end.
"The man management side of it has always been good for me - it’s worked quite well.
"I have managed them, man-management is the biggest part of the job today.
"It’s your guidance and determination, your belief, your desire to achieve certain goals and to set out those goals to the staff behind the scenes and then to players.
"It was a long road, but we got to the area where we wanted to be."
Allardyce - regularly serenaded by Sunderland supporters at home and away games - quickly struck up a strong bond with fans.
And he says managers have to work hard to earn the respect of supporters.
He added: "If you manage your staff and your players, and make tough decisions, you hope you earn the respect you have in the stadium.
"I try to make the atmosphere warm and inviting," he told the Northern Echo.