‘Not good enough’ – Bootle manager Steve McNulty left questioning ‘hard patch’ after two defeats

Bootle manager Steve McNulty

Bootle manager Steve McNulty says his side have to ‘roll their sleeves up’ after they slumped to successive defeats following their win over Macclesfield. 

The Bucks failed to follow up their heroic win at the Leasing.com stadium as they slipped to back-to-back defeats to the hands of Ramsbottom United and Clitheroe.

The Rams ran out 2-1 winners at the Berry Street Garage before Billy Priestley’s side dispatched of the 10-men of Bootle, firing home four unanswered goals to become the second team in a number of days to leave Vesty Road with all three points.

It spells the worst run under the former Tranmere Rovers and Luton Town defender since he took charge in August.

And his assessment was simple, he told Off The Park: “Quite bluntly it’s not been good enough, the mentality has been poor, not enough winners in the dressing room just accepting bad standards all over the pitch. Just not good enough, quite bluntly. 

“For me, it’s not enough desire to go and win a tackle, [not enough desire] to win a game, it’s just been a hard patch.

“People saying [against Clitheroe] it’s not a 4-0 game but you know, it’s black and white we lost 4-0, conceded six in the last two home games and it’s just not good enough.

“Standards aren’t good enough, players have got to do more, us as staff have got to try and do more to help them,” he added. “Shipping six goals in two home games isn’t good, you shouldn’t have to be scoring three goals on Saturday to win a home or scoring five to win a home game, it’s just not good enough and it’s something we’re going to have to look at and try tighten up.”

Elaborating on where the feels the management side have gone wrong in recent weeks, he added: “We’ve been playing the same formation as we have when we’ve won games. I held my hands up at Runcorn Linnets where it didn’t work and I had to change at half-time, their full-backs were getting space down the sides because our diamonds were too narrow and that was my fault.

“You chop and change personnel, give lads who haven’t played a go, you think you might get a reaction from people – you leave them out and put them back in or give other lads a chance.

“But at the end of the day, it’s down for them lads to take their chances, for the lads that are in the team to keep hold of their shirts. It’s a cut-throat business, it’s tough and if we’re not winning games it’s something we’re going to have to change, bring lads in who can get us results.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t pick up results, it’s a result-based business, and at the end of the day, it’s your head on the chopping board, it’ll be you out the door and not the players.

“So we’ll have to put it right, we will put it right, we know the targets that we want, we know we can improve, we will improve and we will get it right, we will be challenging come the end of the season.”

With the league yet to be stabilised, a win or a defeat could vastly impact any team’s league position come Saturday evening or Tuesday night.

But for the 39-year-old, he revealed that their recent displays have forced him to identify areas of the pitch that need improving.

“I think that’s either in you or it’s not, you’re either a winner – that can’t be taught,” he said when asked about whether the desire could be instilled into his side.

“It might just be down to the fact we’re going to have to bring in more players that have got that desire and are winners, that’s how it’s going to have to be. We’ve been here long enough now, we’ve identified the areas we need improving, we’re doing our best to try and get the players in to improve us, it’s not as easy as just picking up the phone and getting a player in the next day, it’s tough.

“I could sign 20 players today but they wouldn’t improve the squad in my opinion, we’ve got to wait, be patient, get the right targets in and the right people who are going to strengthen the squad.”

Clitheroe found Merseyside to be a happy hunting ground again on Tuesday, as they did on their last visit in March.

Whilst there was glimpses of the Bucks in the ascendancy, McNulty was forced to rue ‘error after error’.

He added: “I thought we were the better side for 25 minutes, I thought we started the game great, we probably had a couple of half chances that on another night if you can one of them it’s a totally different game.

“But then we get sucker punched on the break again, there’s a catalogue of mistakes leading to the goals that need to be addressed, and will be in training, after that they hit us, you look at it and you’ve got no hope of coming back because there’s not enough drive in the team, desire in the team to claw it back then we get hit with another sloppy goal.

“I’ve watched all the goals back, watched the game again, it’s just a catalogue of errors after errors, we’ve got to be a little bit more streetwise going forward, we can’t go past the ball when we haven’t got comfortable possession and leaving us exposed at the back. They’re things we’re going to address and need to improve on.” 

This week for Bootle it’s a trip to Newcastle Town. The Castle go into the game off the back of their defeat to Runcorn Linnets on Tuesday.

The Bootle boss believes his side need to ‘roll up their sleeves’ if they’re going to heed their losing run.

“There’s no easy game in this league and we’ve lost the last two, I think the worst thing that could’ve happened to us was going to Macclesfield and winning,” he continued.

“We are a good side but people start to get above their stations, think they’ve arrived and it’s going to be easy that we’re going to just turn up and win the game but listen mate, football’s not as easy as that and Saturday will be no different.

“It’ll be another tough game but we’re going to have to roll our sleeves up, have a look at a few things in training, tweak a few things then we’re going to have to pick ourselves back up and go there with confidence, it’s going to be a tough game but we’re going there preparing for right and looking to win. 

“We said to them in the dressing room losing becomes a habit, winning’s a habit as well. We can’t get into that mindset of losing and it becomes a bad habit then you start accepting stuff.

“I won’t let that happen, we have to roll our sleeves up, we’ll go over the game, we’ll look at stuff, speak to the lads about things, what we can improve on, what we can do better as a whole not just the players but us as staff.

“We have to look at ourselves, you’ve got to go home and look at yourself in the mirror first and foremost, make sure you’re doing everything you can to get three points. Hopefully we go there on Saturday and get three points.”

[Featured image: Paul Moran]

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