Assistant manager on the Saturday defeat
Assistant manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his assessment of the disappointing defeat on Saturday.
“It’s one where we haven’t made them work hard enough for the points,” he said. “I thought we performed quite well in the first half in terms of passing the ball, but if we defend in the way we defended and concede goals in that manner then we are never going to win games.
“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and that seems to be happening quite a lot at home. This one is leaving us feeling a bit shell-shocked because their staff have even been in and told us they thought we were the better team. It’s what happens in both boxes that matters though and we look like we’re a bit fragile and nervous in our own area. We need to put a stop to that.”
“I can’t put my finger on why it has gone this way for us,” he added. “We’ve said all along that it’s a one-goal league and it tends to be that if you get ahead you go on to win the game. All credit to the boys because they got back into it when that happened to us today.
“I thought we’d go on from there but we then conceded a very sloppy second goal. We just can’t keep doing that. Our goals against record is very poor and it’s something we certainly need to look at. We can talk about different styles and systems but if you’re in the team that doesn’t really matter. Your job is to deal with your man. At the moment that’s the part we aren’t getting right.”
“The inconsistency levels of us, as a group, has been an issue,” he explained. “Year on year over the last three years we have improved every aspect of our play. We feel that we have more of a rounded group for this season and we think we should be able to go on and attack teams, especially at home. For whatever reason, it hasn’t gone that way for us. The longer we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot then the longer we will have that problem.
“We’ve no excuses for this home run. The fans have stayed with us, the pitch is lovely and it’s a place where you want to get the ball down and play. Maybe now we need to change our philosophy and be a little bit more direct. We need to keep the ball away from our goal for longer periods and gain more confidence from doing that.”
“We’ll continue to work every day as hard as we can,” he said. “It’s frustrating at the moment because confidence is a bit low. However, that comes back very quickly if you can get clean sheets and wins under your belt.
“I don’t think we can just blame the back four for the goals we’re conceding because we’ve got to help them out as a team. We’ve got to protect the ball more and there are a number of aspects of our game which are wrong at the moment. That’s why we are getting punished.
“Like I say, we can talk about systems and things like that as much as we want, but what we have to do now – and this includes me and the manager – is to go home and look at ourselves in the mirror. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing absolutely everything we can to make us better as a team and better as individuals. We need to be big enough to be our own worst critics and to make sure we are honest enough to deal with whatever we think we should do better.”
“It’s hard to find positives in situations like this but we kept going and Dave [Symington] scored a great goal,” he told us. “We’ve done a lot of work with him on crossing, shooting and finishing and to be fair to him he’s taken it on board. He hit the bar with a tremendous shot which would have got us back to 4-3, but it’s easy for all of them to play when they’re losing. The expectancy had gone for us as the game went on and what we need right now are some strong characters to come through earlier in the game, when we still have the chance to go on and get points.
“The fans were magnificent and we need them to keep coming. Without them we don’t have a football club. I think they’ve been incredibly patient and I hope that continues. The more they get behind us the better it is, but we need to give them something to be able to shout about.
“I know if I was coming and paying my money I wouldn’t like to see my team lose. It’s a difficult one because we, as staff and players, need to be pushing in one direction with them. I’d say they are doing that for us at the moment, but we aren’t keeping up our end of the bargain.
“Next Saturday is a big, big game for us. It’s vitally important for us that we stay in the competition from a financial point of view, but Ebbsfleet won’t give us an easy game at all. There’s no point in feeling sorry for ourselves so we’ll get back to work next week and make sure we do what we can to win that game.”
United Player subscribers can see a video interview with Graham Kavanagh later today. For more information on United Player, and to subscribe, click HERE.