United boss Chris Beech gave us his reaction to the New Year’s Day away defeat at Crewe shortly after full time on Wednesday afternoon.
“As I said during the week, Crewe can have these spells in games and we allowed it to happen,” he said. “I was really pleased with the second half and the attitude of the players. I challenged them to react to the void they’d put themselves in, and they did.
“But in that period we’re talking about, one of their goals was outstanding, but for me the other three were so avoidable. They’ve worked the ball wide, passed it a few times to get it wide, but we let the crosses in too easily.
“For the first goal there’s a player unmarked, four-yards from our line, and he heads the ball home. The other goal, the ball is played under no pressure behind the full-back, it’s too easy to run behind him and face our keeper in a one against one - it’s far too easy.
“With this kind of thing there are no surprises from Crewe. They use the full width and depth of the pitch, they pass it, they’ve been doing it for years, and they have different layers of players doing it.
“They can change the energy within that team and they all know what they’re doing within that system. Crewe’s biggest challenge is holding onto those players in January to affect their season.
“For us, I’ve been pleased that we’ve been better at not conceding recently, but we’ve conceded four today and that is unacceptable.”
Having watched Crewe take control of the game through that devastating spell, he commented: “It’s difficult to watch, I can’t answer that any other way. I have my personal thoughts in terms of what should be better, but I’m not prepared to share them with yourselves, they are things I have to work with the players on getting better.
“I won’t publicly critique that area, but one hundred percent it’s not acceptable. Having said that, we got promoted at Rochdale in League Two and we’d lose a game by four goals once a month, and we finished third.
“It was like a monthly thing you couldn’t really plan for, but we won 25 or 26 games. It happens all the time in football, but we’ve got to make sure it’s not a regular thing.”
The response to the setback of the first half was a positive one from the away side, with a stunning goal from Jack Iredale added into the mix.
“It was a good goal, and we had a good dozen chances to score more, but we didn’t,” he told us. “I’m happy that they didn’t let the game float away, which it could have done into cricket scores.
“In terms of the attitude and the grit and determination, there were elements of that in the first half, but it’s the type of goal we concede that destroys us, similar to the Colchester goals. We’ve seen character when it comes to the responses we had after Colchester and after the second half today, but we can’t let goals in like this. The first three goals were too easy and completely unacceptable.”
But a run of just two defeats in the eight games since taking charge for the manager suggests that a platform is being built on as the weeks go by.
“That’s two defeats too many for my liking,” he insisted. “I’m happy we haven’t conceded at home, somebody will score at some stage in the season, but it’s about winning the actual game.
“Clean sheets are vital, but not as vital as scoring one more than the opponent. I just said to the players it’s about standards. Crewe are the best at what they do in this division. They’ve got these players who have been doing this a long time, and they’ve been able to build layers while doing it.
“For example, if Dale doesn’t start, someone else can. He can come on, they can share the load as they progress through a season. Not only do they have a very good starting 11, they’ve got 11 players behind that who can take their opportunities when given them.
“That takes a long time to build up. What we have to do as players is never accept getting beat, but at the same time you have to look at them as the marker to this league, and we have to try and get as close and beyond that in time.”
Speaking more about the opponents, he said: “For me they are the best in League Two with the way they play football. They’ll come under pressure as the season progresses, but their manager has definitely landed on four or five unbelievable youth players that make a strong structure for the experienced players to play with.
“In 15 years of coaching I’ve managed to recruit, develop and sell 18 player, so it can be done, and we did that well at Rochdale. Obviously there’s good potential around some of the players in the squad, but at the same time the challenge for us is to keep it happening regularly, so you’ve always got one behind the one who makes it into the team.”
And with three of the youth team players om the bench today, we wondered if that was a sign of things to come.
“Yeah, I want ambitious, young players that are committed, but they don’t necessarily have to be young,” he told us. “I want the skipper to be ambitious, to be the oldest Football League player playing, why not?
“I want people to challenge themselves and see that every day is a day to get better. We didn’t get what we wanted today, I agree, we will look to draw a line underneath it, but at the same time we’ve got to look at that opponent and congratulate their quality.
“They’ve done that other teams – Salford, Swindon, to big teams. I’m finding it hard to speak too much because I do want to win. I have to look at that and think the standards they’re setting are something we have to look to achieve.”
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