The disappointment felt by the players and manager at the end of the Gillingham game was there for all to see after a late, late goal for the home side perhaps summed up what had been a difficult day.
And manager Paul Simpson revealed that he’d changed things up in training this week as he looks for a positive reaction when we head to Orient on Saturday.
“Training has been excellent this week,” he said. “We’ve tried to bring a little bit of variation on the themes in training and we’ve tried to make it a bit of chaos for them, so they’re having to think about what they’re doing.
“Between now and the end of the season let’s be honest, it’s going to be chaos, we can guarantee that. There are going to be games which are going to be mad, everybody is scrapping for different things, and we’ve got to be able to deal with that.
“We want to make sure we’re the team that deals with chaos best but, speaking honestly, I don’t think we dealt with it very well last week at Gillingham at all.
“This is why we’re trying to change things up and hope the players are able to keep a calmness about them to be able to show the football that we think we can play. We know we can be better with the attacking stuff so, if we can bring it together, hopefully in turn it will bring us results.”
And rather than handle the frustration, he talked about the need to remember how well things have gone this term.
“I think the biggest thing we have to manage is everybody’s expectations, because they’ve gone through the roof,” he commented. “I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it, at the start of the season we definitely didn’t expect to be up in these top places.
“We’re having a really bonus time, but what I would say off that is that we want to carry it on. We don’t want to just finish after 38 games and think, yeah, well, it’s been ok. That won’t be true if that happens.
“That’s why we want to make sure we’re finishing it off properly. I spoke to the players the other day and I reminded them that we’ve got five weeks now until the end of that Sutton game. We’ve got to make sure they’re the best five weeks we can do.
“There is no guarantee that it will bring us any level of success, but we have to give ourselves the best chance we can by doing things properly on and off the grass. We need to be at it in and out of training, when we’re inside the football club, at home, wherever we are.
“For these five weeks we have to be as good as we possibly can be. If we do that we’ll take whatever comes at the end of it, but hopefully that will be enough to get us to where we want to go.”
Explaining more about the theory behind a bit of chaos training, he said: “It’s not something we’ve done regularly, but we have had sessions over the season where there has been chaos.
“The theme for today [Wednesday] as a day was chaos. I wanted to get them thinking, get them dealing with a stressful situation, as in football stress. They were very good at it.
“It was just something we wanted to try to have them get into their minds because this weekend at Orient, they will want to cause chaos and make it really difficult for us, just like Gillingham did, like Stevenage did, and it’s probably fair to say we didn’t deal with it as well as we would want to on those occasions. We have to deal with this game this weekend much better.”
“I was annoyed at full time on Saturday, that’s a fact,” he continued. “But I’ve learned over the years how to deal with results, I can accept bad results, but what I don’t like is the performance and the way you go about it when that isn’t right.
“I don’t think it was for the want of trying last weekend at Gillingham either. I don’t like making excuses, I always talk about excuses and reasons, and this isn’t an excuse, but, when I looked at the game we looked flat and devoid of energy.
“There was no brightness in our minds, that was there to see for all of us in the way we performed. So, I looked at the physical stats from the game, and we’ve played 44 games so far this season, and in terms of total distance covered it was ranked at 44 out of 44.
“In terms of high intensity running, so anything round about 5.5m/s it was 43 out of 44. In terms of sprinting it was 41 out of 44. And in terms of the total high intensity and sprinting it was 44 out of 44.
“Now, I don’t for one minute think those players went out not to run, they went out to work. I just think it was one game too many in that little run that had a negative effect.
“I have to look at myself because I maybe shouldn’t have picked that team, so I have to take that on the chin as well. It’s one of those where we’ve had a week now, we’ve had our recovery, we’ve done some good training, so we’ll now travel properly, get down there, and let’s hope we see a performance that’s real high energy with some good football to go with it.”
“What I will say is that I know we’re not going to be at the top of our game every week, I totally get that, because we are human beings,” he concluded. “But I did find that frustrating because I felt as though it was an opportunity that we’d let slip.
“Like I say, when I got all the GPS stats through it confirmed what I felt when I was watching it. We were flat, we had no real energy or spark, and if I take all of the physical data into account it was our worst physical performance of the season.
“Put it all together and we just weren’t very good on the day, so this week has been about getting freshened up, rested, and ready. We’ve made the sessions a little bit chaotic to see how they react and I’ve been really pleased with them this week.
“There’s a fire in the belly and we have fresh faces in there with Hunts back training, Fin Back is here and we’re starting to get a little bit of a change in feeling, and let’s hope the results reflect that.”