Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft has ordered his squad to leave the hurt of Saturday’s derby defeat behind them and focus solely on beating Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.
The lacklustre 1-0 defeat at bottom club Notts County was a bitter pill for the embarrassed manager, players and fans to swallow.
But Flitcroft told his squad that the hurt had to stop on Monday and he wanted no ‘victim’ behaviour as, after a frank exchange of views at the start of the week, all eyes had to be on the future and securing promotion.
“We were all hurting and I felt that Saturday night, Sunday and into Monday,” said Flitcroft.
“But it’s how long you let hurt last and affect you.
“There has been a lot of soul-searching. They were embarrassed. I was embarrassed. But we are a group that makes sure we are together in everything we do.
“We now move on together and make sure we are moving forward and not looking back.
“We had a really good chat on Monday and I showed the players how a supporter would have viewed the game and they all held their hands up, as did I, in what went wrong.
“We aired some very honest views. It was a very honest meeting. Then we moved on to what we were going to get right.
“I have good people around me who help me see the bigger picture and there are so many points still to be fought for from Saturday until the end of the season.
“There has been a focus from the players and an embarrassment. Out of embarrassment people always tidy their act up, whatever they do.”
He continued: “You can’t go to work at any job and not bring your energy bag. We didn’t do that on Saturday. That is the most disappointing thing for me.
“If someone makes a mistake that is human error. You can have days, but you can’t have lazy days. You are playing football for a living.
“We have an opportunity to put this right on Saturday and the game really can’t come soon enough.”
Flitcroft said he tried to manage his players like a responsible parent.
“I manage how I parent – and I am proud of being a good dad,” he said.
“I will make sure they know when they have done wrong, but they know they are forgiven for us to move on.
“Once people come off the right path and values it’s up to me to get them straight back on track. That is what I have focused on this week.
“We were all hurting – the players care, the staff care and I deeply care.
“As the leader of the football plan I have made sure I remain supportive to them and give them the tough love I have always given them.
“I won’t carry the hurt around. If my kids do something wrong I don’t lock them in a cupboard for a week – that’s the Victorian father. That’s gone. That’s not the way to develop or teach kids or anyone now.
“We have moved on and I am expecting a huge response. I have already seen a huge response in training.”
He added: “I won’t let any victim behaviour infiltrate the group or the environment that’s been set. We have built a positive environment to work in.
“I can’t stand ‘victims’ in life or football. Negative people drive me mad and I don’t have them in my life.
“I stay absolutely clear from them and don’t give them a minute of my time.
“Time is the most precious thing we’ve got. You lose it every single moment you are breathing so I spend that time with great people around me. But they are honest people and if I am poor they let me know.
“I have played for managers before who have sulked all week, not spoken to me or any of the other players all week.
“I don’t go up and down. I am on a level and am consistent in what I do. We are in a good place and we’re looking forward to Saturday’s game.
“We owe each other a big performance on Saturday and that’s always the best way to get rid of disappointment.
“There is always disappointment in life. You can either crawl under a rock or pick up the rock and start living and wanting to get better.
“Anyone seen hurting past Monday, you’re no good to me. You are not moving on and looking to the future.
“In 13 games time it could look absolutely beautiful for us.”