Carlisle boss Paul Simpson revealed on Friday afternoon that one of the most frustrating aspects from the away reverse was the sense that there was a lack of enthusiasm to get the job done, particularly through the first-half when the scores were level and it was there to be taken.
“The big thing I want to see is some enthusiasm from the group,” he told us. “I find it incredible that me, Gav and Gez are on the bench and we’re the ones who have to try to get them to be enthusiastic.
“We’re on the side screaming at them to push out and work, and we shouldn’t have to shout that, that’s really basic stuff.
“We’ve got enough experience out there to know what should be done and needs to be done. We have to get back to it.
“We’ve got to get back to doing those simple, basics things well, those things nobody can stop you doing, running and working and shouting and talking and encouraging, even rollocking somebody. We have to get back to doing it.
“Wow, what a life they’ve got here as professional footballers, and you’ve got to make sure you show the enthusiasm and drive that goes with it.
“You need to show you have the desire to want to go and work and do the really basic stuff as well as you can. We’ve had it, and I know they desperately want to do well, but it’s just not happening for us at the moment.”
Could it be that the players are mentally and physically drained following their efforts to drag themselves out of a relegation battle since his arrival?
“Possibly, but it can’t be because the season is over 46 games,” he said. “If you are, you can’t be a full professional footballer if you’re spent after 42 games.
“They show they’ve got levels of fitness in training, so it can’t be that, I’m not prepared to say they’re spent.
“I don’t know what it is, whether it’s a mental issue, whether they do think it’s over but at no point have we ever said it’s over, not a chance.
“I’ve said we’re going right through to Bradford, we want to finish this season as strong as we can, and it’s been a really disappointing four games.
“We had the excitement at the end against Tranmere, but some really average performances that we’ve got to change, we’ve got to improve it.
“We’ve got to improve everything that goes on, and I’ll go away and watch this again, get them back in over the weekend and try and get them freshened up.
“But there comes a point in a footballer’s life where you can’t get outside help, you have to do it yourself. That’s the most important thing about a footballer.
“I wasn’t a brave footballer by any stretch of the imagination in that I wanted to go in for tackles, but I certainly had a bit of desire to want to do everything I could to get a result out of the game.
“The other thing they need to ask themselves is can they do a little bit more, and if they can they need to bring it to the table for the next four games.”
And the mini-run that’s developing is exactly what he warned against when he spoke about the threat of complacency creeping in through that good run of results.
“I said this week, the league table doesn’t lie,” he agreed. “We’re now 42 games in, and we are still in a really difficult position. You can say mathematically yes, we can get two more points to be safe, but we’re not safe yet.
“There is still a possibility teams can get enough points to drop us down. I would be very surprised if it happened, but I don’t want to have to rely on anyone else.
“We’ve given ourselves the chance to have it in our own hands. If we can go about our business properly for the next four games it will be in our own hands.
“But the table tells you there are issues with us as a group that need to be changed and resolved. I didn’t warn against a run like this because I was being clever, it’s just what happens in football.
“If you’re a good side you’re consistent, and we’re just not. If that’s what’s happened in the first 31 games as well then it tells you a story.
“We have to find that consistency and we need to get some leaders to step up to the plate and drive each other on. We have a few games left where we can do it, and we’ll see what happens in those.”