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MANAGER: We have to earn it

23 March 2014

Graham Kavanagh on the Notts County game

United manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the game at Notts County shortly after full time.

“This has been a really disappointing day and it’s one where there are very few positives to take away,” he said. “We were talking before the game about the energy and performances we were getting from the group but we got none of that in this game. It has shocked us, as a staff, because we let the first goal affect us. We retreated into our shells and Notts County took advantage. 

“I think it’s the first time where the age of the group has had a real impact on what we have wanted to do. We didn’t recover from conceding that first goal and that was very worrying for us. We spoke about taking the game to them and about tempo, and I think we actually got that for the first part of the game. It isn’t acceptable that we made it comfortable for them after that and we’ve had some harsh words in the dressing room.”

“It’s very difficult to explain where a performance like that comes from,” he added. “We were just nowhere near good enough right across the park. We know we have some senior players missing, and we’re hoping that we will see a few of them back, if not for Tuesday then at least for next weekend. It does affect you in situations like this when those players aren’t involved, but we’ve got to get on with it. We’ve told the young players that they have to man up because we have to start finding victories.

“I thought Sean O’Hanlon looked a bit off the pace because he has been missing for three weeks. It took him a while to get going but we had other players who just didn’t give us the energy and determination we’ve been seeing recently. It was an all round poor performance and we have got to put it right.

“I’m not going to allow anyone to sit around and feel sorry for themselves. We have nine games left to play and we have to stand up and be counted. We have to work hard for each other and make life difficult for the teams we come up against. We’ve got to stop talking about getting results and roll our sleeves up to make them happen.

“The good thing is that we don’t really have any time to dwell on this. We have to be ready for a big game against Shrewsbury on Tuesday night. Like I say, talk is cheap, and I want to start seeing the work rate and energy right across the pitch. We have to look at where we are and put it right.”

“We have a lot of players who haven’t been through anything like this before,” he said. “We explained to them the negative impact relegation can have on a career and how long it can take to recover from it. They need to understand where we are and what it means, and they need to understand it quickly. The only way to get it out of it is by hard work. If we’re not going to get that from them then it’s a waste of time. We saw to day that we allowed ourselves to be beaten because we didn’t do the basics and I just won’t accept it.”

“All we can do is dust ourselves off and go again,” he explained. “We’ll look for ways of getting the best out of everyone so that we do what we need to do to stay in this league. I am still looking to add to the group and that’s something we will continue to do over the next five days. Phone calls have been made and if we can bring someone in who will give us that bite and energy then I will look to make it happen. I know we are overloaded with loan players and that it will give me selection problems, but I’m comfortable with that because all I want is a successful team.

“We’re paying the price now for the slow start we had to the season and for the injuries to the senior players. Both are hitting us hard. Every single day matters in football and we now have nine games left to keep ourselves in this division. I believe we have enough to do that and it will be my job to make sure the players give me their absolute maximum. They’ve done that for a lot of games but nothing will come easy for us. We’re going to have to earn it.

“This has been a huge defeat, because it’s put us in the bottom four, but it is now about how we cope on Tuesday night. I would like to say that the fans were brilliant for us. They did their part yet again. I can only apologise to them for the manner of the defeat because they have paid their money to come and support us. It just wasn’t good enough from us and we have to address it for Tuesday.”

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