The key word at this week’s manager press conference was ‘consistency’ with Chris Beech agreeing with questions, some of which had been raised by fans, about the need for a focal point or a target man, particularly through those periods in games recently where the team has struggled to gain and maintain and foothold.
“I’d agree with that,” he said. “Brennan Dickenson, Lewis Alessandra and Tristan Abrahams started the game at Swindon and there was focal point within that match.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t go like that on that day. It’s at that point in your responsibility, taken from players, to understand that and make it better, whether it’s to change the way you’re doing it or you change how you’re doing it, or ask each other to support each other in what you’re trying to achieve together.
“At Crawley it didn’t quite click in the first half. It kind of goes backwards within your workforce, and you have good players making mistakes they wouldn’t normally make, and not so much the opposition beat you, but you end up beating yourself. That’s what happens.
“What we do, in our best ways of doing things, is to be on our front-foot. We’ve had to look and contemplate how to beat everyone everywhere last season, and our away record wasn’t fantastic.
“What the players didn’t do on Saturday was be able to play quick when the ball is in play and slow everything down out of it. But we’ve been ever so good at doing that at Swindon, Port Vale, and these are hard places to get points.
“The first two away games were excellent and the latter two haven’t been as good as we’d all like.”
“We’re learning a lot within that,” he continued. “In terms of personnel and someone who’s 6ft 7in, of course it can help. But sometimes you see games, and I watched Cardiff play at Coventry last night.
“They’ve got some real big players, but Coventry’s speed, the interchange of ball, the movement, a much smaller team, and they ended up dealing with Kieffer Moore and winning the game.
“Sometimes it can help, sometimes it can’t. It depends what you do, how you’re doing it and how the players go about it. Attitude, intensity and energy are key things to anybody having a good day at work.”
And he also confirmed his own frustration at the slow start we’ve seen in the last two outings.
“I think you guys asked me last Thursday about how many games into a season you start to analyse, and I just look at each team as they come to us,” he told us. “We obviously want to start better than the last two performances you’re talking about.
“Of course you try to win every game, and the next one that’s in front of you. If you look at some teams, again as I said last week, Bolton came from nowhere last season. They were 3-0 down and going into the last 10 minutes of our match here and we were looking at another home victory.
“Who knows what would have happened at Bolton at that point because they were struggling in the league. They survived our day and kicked on through January, and we know what happened from there.
“In terms of consistency, you know the time of your game is 90 to 95 minutes and I’m sure you can ask far more experienced managers than myself about how hard it can be to do it for the full game.
“Even last night [Wednesday] watching Liverpool, you can ask Jurgen Klopp how he felt going into half-time. His team played so well but they go in behind. Of course he’s magnificent, but it happens to the best and we’ve got to be mindful of that as we look to make sure we look after ourselves.”
“We’ve been a little bit inconsistent, I completely agree with you on that, and it’s not something you try to coach and be like,” he added. “What we have been is proactive to make difference within that, and unfortunately for us on Saturday the left back scores a Jordan Henderson type strike and we lose.
“That can happen in football matches but we’re allowed to score those goals too. It’s important we don’t go too far from where we are as we concentrate on what we’re very good at and what can win us games.”
And on the part Zach Clough can play, in terms of team formations and styles, he said: “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, aren’t they, so of course you look at different shapes and formations, and how to create platforms to attack.
“When you aren’t playing that well, and to have a focal point within that, you want somebody to put a flag in the ground – it could be a chest or a head from a front man – and that makes the focal point to play off at that moment.
“Sometimes you don’t even have to win the first header, but you need to be able to put the opponent on the back foot to pick up second things. That means they aren’t playing on their terms.
“You can play in completely different ways to try things, which we sometimes do within games. I’m very pleased with our midfield, it does get a lot of compliments from others, but it doesn’t mean to say its set in stone and always should play.
“You may see changes within that, and the people doing it within that. Of course you want people of Zach’s quality on the pitch, and you saw against Salford at home that it was probably the right thing to do, and in retrospect of that you go to Crawley and look to try to enhance how we’d finished that previous game.
“If you look at the actual player content at Crawley I think we had the front three, without checking, which managed to beat Swindon. It’s interesting what can happen, and it’s interesting how players go about their business within that when they’re asked a couple of questions.
“We have a good honest group and we’re very excited about Saturday’s fixture.”