United boss Steven Pressley gave us his reaction to the Notts County home defeat shortly after full time in Saturday night.
“It was a night dictated by the weather, but it was a night that wasn’t about the tactical aspects of the game, it was about character,” he said. “The disappointing aspect was that Notts County showed greater character than us and they deserved to win the game. It’s not nice to have to say that.
“We went into it on the back of a good result at the weekend. It was a really good opportunity for us to build on it, but we didn’t manage to do that. I was really disappointed, and it’s told me a number of things.
“I’ve been here just short of two months and I’m finding out things all the time. That type of performance is not the type of performance that gives you a chance of gaining promotion.”
Speaking more about the importance of having the right type of character for difficult games in difficult conditions, he said: “I think we’ve showed some levels of character in recent games, but not enough at times. In this game we were short of it, there is no doubt about it. We were short of the character and belief required to win the game.
“It was a horrible night with horrible conditions to play football in, but you’ve got to roll the sleeves up and show you can do it if you’re going to gain the promotion you want. Whatever was in the mindset tonight, we have to do better.
“We could see it wasn’t a tactical game, it was a game where there was very little in the way of tactics, it was about winning second balls and headers. It wasn’t a game of chess, it was the type of game where I think character was the most important aspect.”
“Character is something which has to come from within,” he explained. “I can’t give a player character, that’s part of their makeup. It’s up to the player to show he has the character to bounce back.
“That’s what separates players. Make no mistake that a big part of football is about mentality and character, and those who show it are the ones who push on.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but the wind did drop in the second half. When we came back out after half time their assistant manager actually said that they’d turned the wind machine off, because there was a definite drop.
“That isn’t an excuse, because it was difficult for both teams. I felt we just didn’t get that first or second pass away, in either half, and I don’t think we showed the determination to win that’s needed in tough games like this.”
“I can’t sit here and tell you there were positives, because there were very few,” he commented. “In the opening exchanges we stood up to the game reasonably well, but over the 90 minutes it just wasn’t a good enough performance from us.
“If we can’t play our football we have to be able to win ugly sometimes, and we didn’t demonstrate that at all. Sometimes we need to show more composure. I’ve said this before, but when you’re behind in a game and you get good opportunities you just need to take a big breath and get that extra pass in to create a real goal scoring opportunity.
“We were very anxious in everything we did, we were snatching at the opportunities because we wanted to get the goal, but you have to show that level of composure. We didn’t allow ourselves to calm down and we weren’t particularly good in any area of the pitch.”
On the goal conceded just before half time, he said: “It’s a silly error and it’s something we have to eradicate. We can’t give up goals like that, especially when you’ve worked as hard as we had to keep them at bay, against the conditions.
“The first goal was disappointing, but we still could have gone on and won the game from there. I don’t want to over assess the football side of things too much, because the conditions were horrendous, but I come back to the fact that I didn’t see enough character.
“We’re all disappointed by that, but any defeat is a low point and this one is no different. We didn’t manage to gain the momentum we hoped we would in the second half, and it probably wasn’t until the last 15 minutes that we really started knocking on the door.
“You simply won’t win games if you don’t show the right type of character. Games aren’t won in this division solely by playing football, because different questions are asked of you. That’s what we need to understand and we must improve as we go into some very important games.”
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