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INTERVIEW: It isn't acceptable

27 February 2013

Manager on the Walsall defeat

United manager Greg Abbott gave us his reaction to the defeat at the hands of Walsall on Tuesday night. 

“I’ve had quite a bit to say to the group in the dressing room just now, but that stays behind closed doors,” he said. “It’s the type of performance which puts everybody under scrutiny. 

“It’s the kind of thing which opens us up to the criticisms and grumbles which are going about at the moment because the season hasn’t panned out the way we wanted it to. It gives an argument to all of the doubters and to all of the people who have lost a little bit of belief in what we’re doing to come and criticise what we’re trying to achieve. We have to deal with that as a group and move on. 

“It just isn’t an easy performance to explain and it’s taken me by surprise a little bit. It’s one that has come out of the blue and there looked to be apprehension and fear in the way we played. 

“There appeared to be edginess in everything we did and we didn’t work as hard as a Carlisle United side usually does. It just wasn’t there for us, for whatever reason. We have to take all of the criticism on the chin and hope that we get a positive reaction to it in the next game. 

“It does knock you back because it’s horrible as a manager to stand on the sidelines and not have an understanding as to why certain things are going wrong. Sometimes you’re powerless to change things which individuals are doing wrong. 

“I take all of the blame for the performance, because it’s me who picks the team, but I can’t do much about individual errors. It’s just been a really disappointing night.” 

“The opening goal put us on the back foot and it was a poor one to concede,” he said. “You’re going to make mistakes at this level and what you can’t do is let the first one affect everything, which is what happened with that. 

“That meant it became very damaging for everybody and the group now has to come out fighting. We all owe the fans and everybody for a performance like that and we have to deliver. It’s a tough time and mind sets get affected by performances like that. We have to scrap and dig and find the mental toughness to come through it, as we have in the past. At the moment we have everybody thinking we’re not a very good team or a very good backroom team. We have to change that. We’ve done too much good work to let it slip just because of one game.” 

“We went with David [Symington] because it’s something we have all wanted to see,” he explained. “People were saying he should be on the right but he has played a lot of his football on the left. He’s very comfortable with that job. 

“He’s probably just short of playing regularly but we have to find this kind of thing out. I thought he deserved the start with the performances he’s given us but he found it really tough tonight. It was perhaps an example of why we do things the way we do and maybe patience in team selection is the key. I want our young players to keep developing and David will have learned a heck of a lot from that game. We’ll have to look after him because he’ll be hurt by it, so it might be a moment when he needs an arm around him. Like I say, he earned his place and it’s a situation where, as a manager, you’re a devil if you do and a devil if you don’t.” 

“Now we need a response from everybody, it’s simple as that,” he continued. “We have to work particularly hard to repair the damage we’ve done. We have plenty of complaints about what we’ve seen but we now have to make sure the confidence is back. They’re a decent group of people and our job is to get this right. 

“The fact is that if we don’t improve our performances then we will end up in trouble. I’m confident that we have the players and staff here to turn it round. I think if we’d won tonight then we’d have had the best home record in the league in the last seven games, so that tells us we can get it right. However, we looked like we were a disheveled outfit and we put in a really poor performance. That will never be good enough.” 

“We always want to play entertaining football,” he insisted. “It hasn’t been great of late but the important thing at the moment is results. I don’t want to lose games by 3-0 and that’s why we sometimes play the systems we use. I can accept the crowd’s frustration from this game because we haven’t got a leg to stand on in terms of an argument. We know we have to better and we have to resurrect those performances because we want the fans back. We’ll only get that if we give them something to cheer about and, at the moment, we can’t say that’s happening.” 

“Lee [Miller] will tell you himself that he hasn’t had his best game,” he said. “He has missed over half a season and he looked a little bit lethargic tonight. He’s still playing catch up in terms of how much of the season he missed and it is a little bit of a lack of respect for Lee to say that he isn’t going to try because he is out of contract. 

“He is not that type of lad and he is going to give his all between now and the end of the season. He’ll have good and bad games, just like any player. I don’t think we can just assume that because he has had a poor game he is going to move on. He’s had an off night but it is in his best interests to play as well as he can, whether that means he stays here or moves on.” 

“My head is down at the moment because performances like that hurt,” he admitted. “I get hurt by the criticism that’s thrown at me and the club, and I’m hurt by the fact there were only 3,200 people here. But I’ve got to raise my own spirits and get everyone lifted because we have to be better. That kind of performance can't happen too often though because it isn't acceptable by any standards.” 

United Player subscribers can see a video interview with Greg Abbott now. Click HERE to go to the Player platform. Follow the same link for more information on United Player, and to subscribe.

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