We spoke to defender Anthony Gerrard shortly after full time on Tuesday evening as he got his first 45 minutes in a United shirt under his belt.
“I’m not going to lie, that was tiring,” he admitted. “That’s the first time I’ve played since April, so it was very, very tiring.
"I was nowhere near the level I expect of myself, I was miles off it both physically and mentally. I need to get myself up to match fitness asap. I’ve been brought in to help the club and the manager and I won’t be doing that if I put performances out like that on a weekly basis, which I don’t intend to do.
"It gives me the drive and desire to push on and do well. I’m not one of these namby-pamby footballers who thinks he has a fantastic game every time he steps onto the pitch. I’m very self-critical, I set myself high standards and I fell well below that tonight.
“I’m a big boy, I can take that on the chin. If my dad was here he would have told me the same thing as well. I’m not the sort of player who will come off the pitch and try and convince people I played well and made some nice tackles or some nice passes. I know myself, it wasn’t good enough, and I’ve got work to do to get myself up to speed.
“I’ve always tried to set high standards for myself in everything I’ve done. It was good to get the minutes under my belt, but the score line wasn’t so good. I think we showed some really nice attacking football and if we can create that many chances against a Championship side it bodes well for the future. Defensively, we were a little bit exposed and a little bit open, but we can work on that."
“Although the result was 5-1 it just wasn’t that sort of game," he continued. "We hit the woodwork twice, Richie Bennett’s flicked header could easily have gone in, and the keeper made two great saves in the second half.
"We created a hell of a lot of chances against Blackburn’s Championship back four, so the signs are promising. Hopefully we can keep some clean sheets, be a bit more clinical in front of goal and get some points on the board."
And on the excellent response to the performance from the fans, he said: “When you get beat 5-1 you would usually expect to come off the pitch to boos from the crowd, but it wasn’t like that at all.
"The fans who were here will have seen exactly how the manager wants us to play, with attacking, free-flowing football. We produced that in spells, and now we need to get the defensive shape sorted so we don’t get countered easily when we’re on the attack."
“We’ve only played three games but we obviously want to get a win as quickly as we can," he told us. "By all accounts, in the first 25 minutes of the Exeter game the lads didn’t start well, but after that they were right in the game.
"On Saturday we conceded two goals which could have been stopped, through not tracking runners and things like that. Jamie Devitt and Hallam Hope scored two great goals. You don’t win any trophies after two league games, we want to build and just keep bubbling along until the crunch time of the season where we can show everyone what we’re made of."
With the Cheltenham away game looming on the near horizon, he admitted that he will be working hard to try to secure a place.
“I’ll get my head down for the rest of the week and do everything I can to try and make sure I’m in the gaffer’s thoughts for Saturday," he commented. "I’ll do all my fast feet work and all the fitness stuff I’ve got to do to try and claim a place on Saturday.
"If I don’t get picked, I’ve still got work to do to bridge the gap. Like I said, I haven’t played any minutes since April, so I know I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I’m not the type of lad who shirks a challenge.
“I feel like I’ve settled in really quickly. I’m not a shrinking violet type character, I like a laugh and a joke, but I respect everyone from the cleaner and kit man up to the chief exec and the owners. What you see is what you get with me.”
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