We caught up with Academy Manager Darren Edmondson on Friday morning to get his thoughts on the disappointing defeat against Walsall last weekend.
“For 57 minutes we kept it at 0-0," he told us. "As a group we've watched it back together, and if players had taken their chances we probably should have been 3-1 up at half time. If that had happened it would have been a different game, but all the games this year have been about taking chances. Apart from the 6-5 victory over Port Vale, which was a freak result, the first team to score has gone on to win the game.
“To lose 7-0 is also a freak result. I can sit here and say we finished with ten men due to injuries, and that we had three U16s on the pitch, but they’ve got to learn as well. The only plus you can take from it is that the 16s are playing and getting game time, and hopefully learning.
“Sometimes watching it back highlights one or two things that you think didn’t happen when you were watching the game live. It can show you mistakes and things like that because sometimes when you’re out there it can feel different."
“You have to keep clean sheets to win football matches," he said. "You’ve got to put your body on the line for your team mates and the football club, as well as for yourself. Some didn’t do that against Walsall and they’ve seen the result that can happen when they don’t.
“Younger players can take a bigger knock to confidence after a result like that but it’s then myself and Gavin’s job to rectify that. I think at a lot of age groups certain footballers recover from things quite quickly. Others will take it into the next week and use it as a positive. That’s what we’ve asked them to do.
"We’ve had some one-to-one chats with one or two who we could see had been affected confidence wise. Others are using it to motivate themselves and make sure it doesn’t happen again. The response has been positive overall.
“We're looking at our second years to step up even though we might only have four fit for tomorrow’s game. We’ve also got some strong first years who played a lot of football last year, so collectively everybody is responsible. As a group we all felt down after the result and we’ll take it on board and try and learn from it. The players have to make sure it doesn’t happen again."
“We’ve got a good bunch of players with some good footballers," he continued. "If they want to become professionals then 7-0 results can’t happen every week. If it does it suggests there is then a fundamental flaw in personalities or desire levels.
"That can ultimately be the difference. It isn’t always the ones with the most ability who become professional footballers, it’s about what’s inside and what’s in your mind. All aspects of the lads are assessed week in, week out to try and improve that."
Looking ahead to tomorrow's game aganst Hartlepool, he said: "It's a cup game so it doesn’t take the pressure off. We drew the first group game so we need to win this one going into the final game. We'll be positive tomorrow and look to try and be on the front foot.
“A couple of our lads travelled over to Gateshead a couple of weeks ago and it does mean a lot when they are included in games like that. You learn a lot from those spells and you need to make sure you bring positives back and educate yourself while you’re there. You also have a chance to put yourself in the shop window by doing whatever you do to the best of your ability.
"It’s about putting yourself out there for first team staff and the gaffer. We’ve got an excellent bunch of first team players here and there are different things the management team look for. We have tried to instil that into our boys so they’re ready for it."
And on the ongoing arrangement with Penrith, he told us: “To be able to play on Penrith’s pitch is good for the lads. They aren’t having to put the goals out before the game and things like that, they’re coming out of a tunnel which makes it more like a proper match.
"They’ve got to take all of those experiences on board. It didn’t feel very good last week but they’ve got to learn from that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Next up: United v Hartlepool, Frenchfield Park, Cup Group Match 2, kick off 12pm
Click HERE to watch an interview with Darren Edmondson on iFollow United now.