MANAGER: Difficult to take

The manager with Cambridge United match reaction

Manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the defeat at Cambridge on Saturday.

“We come away feeling shell-shocked, to be honest,” he said. “We actually started very well and we were on top for the first 15 or 20 minutes. 

“It was us who created the chances but we couldn’t manage to score a goal. When they got their first goal I thought it would be interesting to see how we would react and I wanted us to show what type of character we have. Unfortunately we didn’t and it turned into a complete shambles.”

“It was very difficult to take because it looked like they were going to score every time they came forward,” he continued. “I’ve asked the players if we’re complicating it too much, or if we’re making it difficult for them, and the answer is no. 

“We’ve worked on a 3-5-2 and we’ve worked on a diamond, so today we went with a 4-4-2. That is the simplest formation you can possibly play and all you have to do, when you’re out there, is compete. We just didn’t do that.

“It doesn’t matter what level you play, some of our lads need to realise quickly where they are. They seem happy for it to be a nice pretty game, but they’re not happy to have to roll their sleeves up or lay their body on the line. They’re not happy with taking responsibility and we saw in the second half that we wanted to get rid of the ball as quickly as we could. It was absolutely awful to watch and I’m disgusted that it happened with a team which was representing me.”

“I feel terrible for the fans who came all this way and for those who have listened at home on the radio,” he commented. “I’m embarrassed by the performance and by the fact we’ve been beaten so badly by a team which was promoted last season, with no disrespect to them. Like I say, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re not going to fight and scrap then this will happen.

“It’s very difficult to read the players and what they’re thinking, at times, and we’ve actually had two psychologists in with us this season to try and help to promote a positive mindset around the group. Quite clearly that hasn’t worked with some of them, from what we’ve seen today, but we need to keep going.

“We got a reaction after the defeat at Wycombe, with an excellent performance at Cheltenham, and I expected us to win when we came here today. It really is as simple as that. Everything in the build up was positive, we worked on the shape and organisation, and we had a real feeling of confidence. The game came along and we lost all of that, and you’re stood on the sidelines scratching your head as to why that is.” 

“We will keep looking for the solution and I am certainly not going to pack this in,” he said. “I’ve been proud of everything I’ve done at this football club to this point because it’s been done with honesty and hard work. 

“This is a results based business and I’m not stupid when it comes to that. We got relegated last season and, even though it wasn’t my team, I was the manager who took us down. I’ve brought my players in for this season and we need to start getting results. We’ve got a lot of injuries and a lot of young players, but they’re telling me they’re good enough. I look at what they do on a daily basis and they do seem to be good enough. But that isn’t being brought into the games, and it’s the same with some of the senior players. 

“The biggest thing all managers and coaches talk about is communication on the pitch. For some reason that seems to be going out of the game. That’s why I like to see Paul Thirlwell out there because he will organise and talk. However, he’s 35 years of age and I can’t keep relying only on him. One or two others need to step up to the plate, but it’s difficult at the moment to pinpoint where that will come from.”

“We’ll examine and reflect amongst the staff about the delivery of what we give and the content of what we give them,” he explained. “What I can say is that it’s worked at every other club I’ve been at. 

“I don’t know why it’s not working here at the moment, but the individual mistakes and the decision making from some players is impacting greatly on us conceding goals. One thing we haven’t worked on is finding bravery. 

“You’ve got to want to get on the ball, even when times are difficult, and we haven’t been seeing that. It’s easy to play when you’re winning games but not so easy when you’re getting beat. At the moment we’re finding it very tough and we have to find out why that is. I need to reassess what we have, find who I can trust and look for those players who will, at the very least, give me a shift. 

“I’ve signed quite a few of the players and I’d like to think they feel they owe me. I’ve never walked away from anything in my life so I’ll keep pushing for success. Hopefully we’ll turn the corner quickly and it will come.”
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