United boss John Sheridan gave us his reaction to the away defeat at Mansfield shortly after full-time on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a tough game for us, but I knew it would be that way,” he said. “They’re a good team but, with the form we’re in, I came here expecting us to put up a much better show.
“I just felt that too many of our players were off their game, if I’m going to be honest. We’re our own worst enemy because this was an opportunity, with being fourth in the league, to continue our good form.
“When you have these opportunities to stay up there and keep things going you have to take them, but this is what you get at this level. A win would have put us in the top three, we didn’t get it, and as much as it frustrates me I have to accept that this type of performance will come along every now and then.”
“I changed the system, and what was a winning team from last week, and we did well in the first half,” he continued. “The team has been easy to pick, because we’ve been winning games, but we still find ways to make things very hard for ourselves.
“Going into half time I was comfortable with what I’d seen. We’d nullified them for the most part and there was no real danger in their approach play. Having said that, it doesn’t excuse us from the fact we should have done better.
“The only bit of urgency I saw throughout the game was through the last 10 or 15 minutes where we started to cause them problems. We shouldn’t be waiting for 70 minutes for us to start performing. The desire and urgency that was lacking should be there from the start.”
On the overall performance, he said: “I expect a lot more from them, and I felt that too many of them were off their game. I’ve just got to take it on the chin and make sure we move on. It’s about how we react now.
“Unfortunately we give away too many silly little free kicks at bad times and we lose the chance to build our own forward play and momentum. Like I say, too many of our players just weren’t at it. They’ve been playing well of late but when you have four or five of them not performing it causes you problems.
“This is what you get at this level. I haven’t had a go at them because they know they can be better. What I’m looking for now is a reaction from them. I’m not looking for excuses, it’s a game we lost and we have to deal with it.”
One of the main talking points from the game was the penalty decision, early in the second half, which ultimately proved to be the difference between the sides on the day.
“There were errors leading up to their goal, which was disappointing, and I don’t know if it was a penalty or not, I was too far away,” he told us. “It doesn’t surprise me that it was given because the referee had his whistle in his mouth all game.
“Every time someone touched someone else he thought it was a free kick. That really frustrates me because it’s a grown man’s game and there’s going to be contact. It was ridiculous how many free kicks he gave and how many times he stopped the game.
“I think it was Jamie Devitt who brought him down and he says it was never a penalty. The other lads are saying the same, but they do say that. It’s been and gone so it’s not really worth talking about.”
“If you look before it was given, there were some bad decisions from us in the lead up to the goal,” he added. “With the quality of the players we have here we should be making the right decisions more.
“I do get frustrated by it, but that’s why I have to keep my head together. It’s the second division we’re in, not the Premier League. I’ll keep reminding them what we want and that the good players are the ones who do the easy things well most of the time.”
United’s best chance of the day came deep into time added on when Jerry Yates arrived at the back post to thunder a Gerrard cross at the target.
“We could have sneaked a draw at the end,” he agreed. “Mansfield had some good chances, and we were chasing the game a little bit at times, but Jerry should probably have scored. There were one or two balls from us pinging around the box and some half chances.
“I’d have taken it, but I think we’d have been fortunate had we got it. We’re disappointed because we’ve had a half decent start to the season. We were after three points from this game as well, but it just wasn’t to be.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with John Sheridan on iFollow United now.
Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.