After seeing his side booed from the park after only a second successive League Two defeat against Luton on Saturday, the gloves were off again for Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray today.
As he prepared for tomorrow’s long haul to Morecambe, he said: “Fans get frustrated, but I am hoping that reaction at the end, was because they looked at the team and felt there was a lack of enthusiasm – as that’s what it looked like to me at times, so I’d agree with them.
“I hope it was for that and not just because we’d been beaten by Luton as, with all due respect, as much as people don’t like to hear it, we are in different ball parks. We are doing our best, but they are different ball parks.
“It’s not like the players are not trying. Sometimes if you are lacking a bit of confidence as an individual, it comes across as if you look lethargic as you are playing with fear and it’s not nice.”
Despite a largely successful season in which Stags have punched well above their weight throughout, Murray once again took personal abuse on Saturday.
He said: “Do we need to be better? Of course we do. Do we want to be promoted this year? Of course we do. We are trying.
“But don’t abuse me. Don’t come for me because I will come for you. The thing is with me is I understand I am a football manager, but at the same time I am a bloke.
“So if you want to get personal with me, it’s not a problem. I am a big bloke.
“I have been here long enough to deal with it. It hits my chin and bounces off. But it affects my players. You can see some of the lads are now drained of a bit of confidence.
“Adam Chapman didn’t have the best of games and he is suffering a little bit at the minute. But they cheer when he comes off. The poor kid is heartbroken. He has tried and it hasn’t come off.
“It’s a constant problem. The year we got promoted we had people jumping on the dug-out, they were throwing coins at us, we had people running on the pitch trying to attack the players.
“It would make a great book or if you could get a camera on the place 24/7 it would be unbelievable.”
He added: “Someone told me my time was up on Saturday, but I’d like to think I’ve brought the club on leaps and bounds in 12 months.
“I’ve had this for 12 years now. I expect it even when we win.
“It will get to a point where I go – we are working our so-and-so’s off for you. We are what we are. We are in a different ball park to where we want to be and who we think we are.
“I’ve tried to give the football club something they want. The fans said they wanted a team that plays football. So on Saturday in the first half we played some good football without creating too much and all you can hear is ‘get it forward’. When we get it forward all we hear is ‘hoof’. So I am confused.
“But I’ve got my beliefs and I am going to play the way I want to play.
“We probably got punished for Kav’s (debut loanee Sean Kavanagh) lack of strength. He got pinned for the second goal and they scored from that.
“But that was the gamble we took. He is a footballer and we want footballers.”
For the fifth time in six home games, Stags went behind to an early goal to give themselves another afternoon playing catch-up.
“It was a flat performance,” said Murray. “For the first time we lacked a little bit of oomph and a bit of fire and that hasn’t been like us since day one.
“I do think there is a little bit of a lack of confidence in the group at the minute, and I think that showed on Saturday.
“We keep putting ourselves in a position, especially at home, where we are climbing mountains. That obviously had an effect on the confidence on Saturday.
“First half without creating any clear cut chances, we had a lot of the ball. They were happy to nick the goal and sit back and we found it tough to break them down. We couldn’t play through them, we couldn’t get in behind them and we didn’t have Plan B to go ugly.”
He added: “We now need to look at a few bits and bobs and maybe freshen a few things up.
“It was disappointing, but the world hasn’t ended has it? I don’t think the place had this feeling about it when we were in the relegation zone last year – it’s such a strange place.
“We go up to Morecambe on Tuesday and get a result then we are one point off the play-offs. I can’t get my head round it.
“I hope Saturday’s reaction was because it didn’t feel like they’d been watching an Adam Murray team.
“With all due respect to the team that was at the football club last year, 75 per cent of them are either not in the game any more or in the Conference.
“So I’d like people to look back and see how far we’ve come in 12 months – four points off the play-offs with only 19 games to go. This isn’t like a flash in the pan and we’ve played 10 games and won the first three before dropping down.
“Yes, there’s still a lot of football to play, which is good. We have had a sticky patch lately and drawn a lot of games. But only twice this season have we lost two consecutive League games which is brilliant.
“I have to keep perspective and looking at the facts of the matter or you get sucked into it. I got sucked into the goldfish bowl last season and it can kill you.
“I won’t have the mickey took out of me because I work too hard.
“Saturday wasn’t good enough and this town and these supporters demand 100 per cent effort, win, lose or draw. If you give that they are happy.
“Yes we want to win every game. I do. We want to be in the play-offs, but we have to progress. You can’t go from nearly being relegated into the top three. It doesn’t work like that.
“We’ve brought in new players and a whole new way of playing.
“I don’t think since I got the job I’ve ever gone on about budgets and resources as I think it’s a load of rubbish. Managers who do that – it sounds like excuses. You just have to be realistic who we are. The boys are trying and I am grafting my nuts off.”