Danny Grainger on the Crewe and Yeovil gamesTeam captain Danny Grainger spoke to us about the recent disappointing run of form ahead of the first of two intense training sessions yesterday.
Looking back first at the Crewe home game, he said: “It was very disappointing. We started well, we got balls into the box and Jamie Proctor’s goal was touch and go on whether or not it was offside. Even he wasn’t sure and we haven’t seen anything conclusive to suggest he was.
“The keeper made a great save in the first minute and they hit us with a sucker punch of a great goal. He caught it first time with the outside of his left boot and that put it over the top to be followed by a very good finish.
“After the sending off in the second half we just couldn’t get to grips with the game and the second goal killed it off. That’s why it was really disappointing for everyone.”
With the team now without a victory in seven outings we asked if confidence had taken a knock through what has been a difficult period.
“When you look at how much confidence we had going into every game at the start of the season it was because we knew we were going to get a result,” he commented. “We’re just not getting the rub of the green at the moment and little decisions are going against us here and there.
“I’m not making excuses there, it’s all part and parcel of football. We know within ourselves that we haven’t been good enough. If we had been we’d have put the points on the board. What we do is dust ourselves down every week and we’re working hard to make sure we put it right.
“I know there’s a lot of frustration around at the moment but the lads are trying their hardest and they are working their backsides off every day. The lads hurt, every single time we get beat, and it’s not the case that we go into the dressing room and forget about it. It isn’t like that at all.”
“It’s a very frustrated dressing room,” he confirmed. “The manager has created a demanding environment and atmosphere and everyone has bought into that. We make sure our training sessions are as bright as possible because we know that if you step off you don’t get a place in the team.
“Nobody in that dressing room has a divine right to play, we all know that. We also know that if we stick together we can pull through the other side and kick on again. People could look for excuses as to why this happened but I think the manager is right, we’re not going to do that.
“We all know about the injuries and a good example of what we’ve been through is that I haven’t been on the pitch at the same time as Jason Kennedy since 10 December, and we’re now going into April. Any team can point things like that out and look for excuses, but the fact is we just haven’t been up to it and we haven’t played as well as we know we can these last few weeks.”
Speaking about the search for goals, he said: “We lost Chas [Charlie Wyke] and Jason Kennedy at the wrong time and Jabo [Ibehre] was starting to look good when we lost him as well. We seem to have had situations like that when we least needed them, but there’s no way we’ll use them as excuses.
“The performances from those of us who have been available have taken us out of the play-off places and that’s a hard one to take. We’ve faced challenges all season and we’ve overcome a lot of them. We hadn’t been out of the top seven since the first month of the season, so it’s disappointing that we are now, especially with us having worked so hard.”
“The belief is still there, without a doubt,” he said. “There will be huge disappointment if we don’t finish this season strongly.
"It doesn’t matter how it happens, we just need a goal from somewhere. It’s probably going to go in off someone’s backside and it will be one of those games where we nick something. Once we get that I’ve got more than enough confidence that we can go on and finish the job.
“We know we’ve got plenty of players in the dressing room who can score goals. It’s right the way through the team, not just the forwards. We’re creating chances again and flashing things across goal, hopefully one of the them will fall to somebody’s feet."
The coaching staff have used the early part of this week to go over clips of recent passages of play to highlight both the good and not so good from recent performances.
“Analysis is important," he continued. "We can’t just come in and forget the previous game and move on. We’ve got to look at it and realise what the negatives and positives were.
"There’s no point dwelling on the negatives all the time. If we sit and talk about how we’ve been beaten we’ll just keep kicking ourselves down. We’ve got to look at the positives from the last few weeks as well.
"It's hard at times but I thought we started the game well on Saturday and got them on the back foot. We were the better team for large periods of the first half so it was disappointing to go in 1-0 down."
Another of the accusations thrown around during a bad run is that the dressing room has lost its way, but the left back is adamant that isn't the case.
“For me it’s a silly question if people are asking whether we’re still behind what the manager is trying to do," he insisted. "I don’t think anybody could label that against any footballer at any level.
"No one is going out there to lose purposely. We’re all in it to win games. People can say players don’t care, or don’t want to be here, or don’t see things from the fans side, but we do. We hurt more than anybody.
"We don’t get to enjoy our weekends if we get beat, as the fans don’t. There is nobody who goes in that dressing room after we get beat and starts laughing and joking.
"The lads come in on a Monday morning and they’re still angry and frustrated that we haven’t put in a performance that merits what we’re about. Everyone is still on board and full of confidence that we can get this job done and make sure we get promoted this year."
“We understand the frustrations of the fans," he told us. "At the end of the day, they’ve seen their team go on the longest unbeaten run in the Football League, and all these sorts of other good things, so we do understand the frustration now.
"I don’t think any other team in this league could have gone on the run we’ve been on lately and still been within touching distance of the play-offs. That just shows how good the start of the season was. There’s no reason why we can’t go on another little run towards the end of the season.
“It’s a seven game season now, that’s how we’re looking at it. We’re approaching every game one at a time. We’ll chalk off Saturday after we’ve hopefully got the three points and then we move onto the busy schedule over the Easter period.
"A week in football can seem a long time, a lot of things can change. If we can get a win on Saturday we could be sat right back in the middle of the play-offs with everyone else still to play each other.”
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