We caught up with United boss Chris Beech after full time on Saturday afternoon to get his thoughts on the game.
“We started very well, and had Morecambe on the back foot, and Josh Kayode was pivotal in that as well, so it was disappointing that he had to go off,” he said. “It was a game that didn’t really settle down for the full 95 minutes, but they were on the back foot.
“Goals change games, they score that goal, a good header, but it’s very avoidable. We were in the ascendancy to try and win it back, it spills and they score. They then score another one from a set play, which definitely isn’t acceptable.
“For the second ball he just walked into space and he has a free header. To be in in that position is very disappointing. The players started the game well, showed resolve to try and finish it and get something out of it, not necessarily points because the gap’s so big at three down, but they did that – but because of the middle bit, it’s too late.”
On the hammer blow that appeared to floor the team after the second goal, he commented: “I agree with that, but if you look at statistics, it was 50:50. I think we had one more shot than they did, but the biggest statistic is winning or losing, and we lost.
“We couldn’t work their goalkeeper and we need to. I would say in the previous few games we’ve been … we’re just very unfortunate at that moment. Today I would say we could be in a better position if they do their jobs as individuals that they’re told to do.
“When a team sheet comes out I know exactly what they’re going to try and do and how they’re going to do it. We have to take responsibility in that moment to make sure it doesn’t have an advantage to your opponent. Today we’ve not done that collectively.”
Speaking more about that team selection, which saw changes made to personnel, he explained: “Sometimes you try to help the group by providing stimulation and you’re trying to make sure it’s with a plan behind it, not just done because there’s no thought behind it.
“There’s definitely thought behind it. The players are getting back up to fitness, or whatever you want to call it. When the game starts you have to give your all, make sure you’re right and supporting your mate right.
“I’ve been in teams that have lost games but you roll your sleeves up and make sure you’re on a winning side by doing the hard miles again, and running a bit harder than you probably did when you were winning.
“We’ve spoken about it but what’s been said is between me and the players. It will stay like that, we will get back to the training ground and work very hard to make sure we understand how hurtful this is, that feeling of the period we’re in, and the way to deal with finding the way out of it.
“When things are like this it’s about sticking together and making sure that the players get back to that training ground and work very hard, and support each other doing it. That’s what they’ve got to do.
“It does look like confidence is lacking but it needs to stop. It needs to change and we have to find a way to change it.”
With this being the first time many of the players will have faced a run of results like this, that in itself will be providing a different kind of test and challenge.
“I told the players before the game that a test is exactly what they are facing right now,” he said. “They’ve given up situations of prominence by winning and being in front, and now they’ve put themselves in a position where they’re in a big test.
“To pass any test you have to get the answers right. We certainly didn’t pass one with their second goal, and that gave us another slap in the face. If you see off your man, mark your man, he doesn’t get the first header.
“The first header was contested, but the second one he has four or five yards of space to head a ball in the net. That’s not a way to concede a goal within the framework of professional football. But if you ask their staff they’d probably say the same about our goal.
“It happens in football, that’s why they’re a big factor in who does what in leagues. It was a big factor today because it gave team a two-goal cushion at a time when the boys were looking to fight back.”
On the feeling inside the dressing room at full time, he told us: “I think if you look at the game obviously this run of defeats isn’t acceptable. We’re not accepting it, and we won’t ever accept defeat.
“Well done to Morecambe for winning the game, they’ve reversed the result from the home game earlier in the season, but losing isn’t acceptable for us. I was very pleased with how we started the match and in the way we asked them questions.
“I think you could see three or four of their players going down with cramp in the last 10 minutes, but obviously that was also part of seeing out the game. They went full tilt to do what they needed to do. But, yes, I was very pleased with that first 30 minutes or so. The first goal changed the game, but that was even more so with the second goal.
I know that situation was very avoidable because I tell people before the game what they need to do, and it wasn’t seen through on it. That made the mountain to climb a bit harder. On the third goal I told the players that all goals are unacceptable, but we’ve got to have a resilience to us during those moments where you’re trying to claw back into something.
“They did have a go, and we got our goal, but we didn’t have enough clear-cut chances and we didn’t get enough exuberance from our attacking players when it came to taking risks and taking people on.
“Even in the first 15 or 20 minutes we got into areas but Omari didn’t cut it back when he could have, even though he’s inside the back line. Gime had one later on where he beat his man and pulled it back to their defender.
“We started well, and if you look at the overall stats both teams are similar, but the scoreline is significant and I’m not happy about that, along with a lot of other people.”
And on addressing the issue of maintaining confidence and focus within games, he commented: “I’m not naïve enough or delusional enough to not see it happening, but this is the kind of thing that happens in life when you’re put on the back foot.
“You’ve got to be honest enough to say ok, this is where we are, and you have to be honest about what your deficiencies are. What you do then is hide your weaknesses within what you’re good at, and we were very good at doing that not that long ago.
“Now it’s being questioned because we’re not hitting those same heights. Yes, we’ve been put in extreme circumstances, and to have over 50% of your squad with Covid is extreme. To have games called off and not being able to train, that’s all extreme.
“That’s all gone now and we’re in a busy run of games. What we have to do is continue to work hard and make sure we get better at responding when something doesn’t go our way. A lot of these players have never faced anything like this, so they’re learning from it, and at some point they have to react and say that this isn’t happening any more.
“I was at that point about four games ago, but it’s still happening, so we have to find different ways of doing what we do as we react to what has become a tough situation. I’ll keep supporting the players, because you can’t just get rid of 25 and bring another 25 in.
“You have to support the players who have done so well for the first half of the season and help them to get back to where they were. If a player is going under too far you can swap him, but it has to change what’s happening because this isn’t acceptable.”
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