United boss John Sheridan spoke this week about the frustration which can build when he sees his team play good football only to then miss out on the victory he feels they deserve.
“I spoke to Tommy [Wright] about it after the game on Tuesday and I said that I’m not going to beat myself up when it happens because I’d find something to do it about every week,” he said. “I watch the videos and analyse what happens, and I honestly could beat myself up every time.
“There are some occasions where I really want to have a go, but I’m trying to be clever because I need these lads on my side. If I said what I wanted to say half of them wouldn’t be able to deal with it, because that’s the way football is now.
“That’s why I look at it from the other way – just chill out for 10 or 15 minutes after the game. That’s something I’m learning as I get older.”
“What it comes down to is that it’s a fine line between being a winner and wanting to win,” he continued. “You have to have the desire to want to win at everything. We want people caring if they lose.
“There is no lack of effort from the players, they’ve given me effort from the first day I came here. What I’m telling them is that you’ve got to have that ruthlessness about you and the ability to get over the line. I’ve said it before, but it’s about getting a grip of each other.
“If you think about it, all you hear is me on the side of the pitch. I’m talking for everyone all of the time. I need to stop, but the game is different today. It frustrates me because I’m trying to give instructions, but I’m saying the same things over and over again.
“The players have to find that ruthlessness themselves. I think you’ve either got it or you haven’t. When I was a young player and an experienced player I was playing with was telling me something, I listened to him, because I knew he knew what he was talking about.
“It was the same with coaches who had been good players. When they said something I tried to take it on board because I knew they were telling me things that would make me better. Over time I was able to take it on board, which meant I had a decent career.
“I’m trying to give information to players to make life easier for them. Whether they understand what I’m saying to them, I don’t know. You don’t have to win every tackle in midfield, you can stand in areas and prevent the ball coming into those areas. That’s just about seeing things and seeing pictures, not about winning every header or every tackle. You’ve got to see situations, get organised and react, and get a grip of each other.”
“Listen, we’re in division two, and I’ve got to accept that the players will make wrong decisions at times, even though it does drive me mad,” he conceded. “Whether I’m going soft, I don’t know, but I’ve got to accept it and work with these players to help them to improve.
“I could talk all day to the players after every game we play, but I try and keep it easy. I’m trying to be placid because I want the players to be on my side. I’ve got to look after them and treat them right because you can’t be hard on players these days. It isn’t even being hard, it’s just being honest and telling it how it is.
“The best manager I played under was the one who moaned at me the most. He got a grip of me and asked me why I was doing this or that, and I listened to him. In today’s football, if you do that with a player, they think you’re having a go and they go and sulk.
“They’re grown men, but they do sulk and they can go under a little bit, so you’ve got to be careful. All you’re trying to do is give them instructions to make us a better team and them better players.
“I’ll keep doing that the best way I can, and in a way I feel the players will respond to. It has to come from the manager, because players don’t do that with each other in the dressing room any more.
“I’ll keep saying this as well - I’ve got a really good group of players, the effort is always there. The effort has been there from day one, but it isn’t all about effort. It’s about taking your game on another step.”
“We’ve spoken before about football not being what it used to be,” he said. “I’m possibly showing my frustration too much, but I think we can get out of this league, and that’s why I’m going on as much as I am.
“I’m not happy with where we are in the league, I think we should be higher. There is nothing stopping us getting out of this division, only ourselves. That’s why I’ll keeping going on and on. We all want to win, and the players should want to win as much as I do.
“I don’t care that we’re in the second division, we could be in the Championship, I’d still be the same. I want us to be the best we can be, and I don’t like it when we don’t play to our strengths, or when we cause problems for ourselves. There’s just no need for it.”
When asked how he would go about the process of demanding more form the group, he said: “The best manager I played under was the one who moaned and shouted and demanded things off me the most.
“I’m probably turning a bit soft, but the game has totally changed in that respect these days. You’ve got to be careful with what you say and how you treat people. We’ve got experienced players in there, but you have to think about how you talk to some of them.
“All you’re doing is trying to help them, but their head can go down and they can start sulking. I just want them to stand up and prove me wrong.
“It’s all about ‘unlucky’ these days – no, I never had that as a player. I had people demanding things of me all the time, whether that was my fellow team mates or the manager and his coaches. If you weren’t at it, people got a grip of you. To be honest, I’ve always preferred it that way.
“I know this all sounds like I’m having a go at the lads, but I’m not. I’m placing the demand on them that we can get out of this league. If we want to get promoted, we can achieve it, because we have a good group of players.
“But we won’t get out of it if we keep making errors and giving the ball away cheaply, like we did against Stoke and as we have in other games recently. You get punished if you play the game that way.
“So, no, I’m not having a go. I’m saying things like this for a reason because I think, if we get our heads round how we have to approach things, we can go up at the end of the season.”
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