Hartlepool United’s players have to “stand up and take the stick” from fans.
That was the admission from defender Carl Magnay who led Pools in Saturday’s 6-1 anihilation at Stevenage.
Magnay said the team was embarrassed by a performance he labelled “unacceptable”.
The supporters in the away end at Broadhall Way let the players know how they felt at the full-time whistle and there is shock among Pools fans everywhere at the manner of the defeat.
“They will be angry and they have every right to be angry, we’ll get stick,” said Magnay.
“We’ve got to be men and stand up and take it – the supporters pay good money to come and watch us.
“It’s not acceptable, we have to be better on Saturday.
“We apologise to the fans for what they have seen.
“They travel great distances to support Hartlepool United and to be greeted by that isn’t good enough.
“Whatever we say now won’t make things feel any better.
“But what we have to promise is, in terms of work-rate, we have to make it harder for teams to beat us.
“We have to make a commitment to the supporters that it won’t happen again.”
Magnay said sorry to the management too, adding that it is imperative Pools bounce back at Yeovil Town this Saturday.
“We are embarrassed,” he said. “We are embarrassed for the fans that travelled, for the fans back home, embarrassed for our manager, the assistant, the owners and for ourselves.
“We must be better and we have to have a positive reaction at Yeovil.
“There is nothing else we can do. We are going to get some stick and rightly so, we can’t hide, we can’t make excuses.
“The only way to answer the critics is to put right everything which went wrong.
“It’s frustrating because you can see, at times, how superior we are with the ball.
“But that does not win you games.”
The irony about Saturday is that, for the second League Two match in a row, they were ahead early on, Nathan Thomas taking advantage of a defensive blunder to score in the fourth minute.
But it was a series of blunders from the away side which characterised the rest of the match.
Goals by Tom Pett and Tyler Walker gave Boro a 2-1 interval lead before Walker, Dean Wells, Michael Tonge and Matt Godden completed the rout in the second period.
“It was a bizarre day,” explained Magnay, who said the absence of the likes of Matthew Bates, Rob Jones and Toto Nsiala was no excuse.
“We started well and looked superior with the ball. But for the next 70 minutes we were too easy to play through.
“Stevenage had a bit of a basic approach, long balls, but we couldn’t cope with that.
“Yes, we missed the attributes of Batesy, Rob, Toto, but still the boys who were in there, including myself, need to deal with it better.
“We’ve made individual errors all over the park.
“As the game went on, we’ve lost a bit of hunger, desire.
“We’ve been overun by a team who have worked harder than us on the day.
“We all need to have a good, long hard look in the mirror, that was totally unacceptable, we know that.
“The dressing room was a place of frustration, anger and embarrassment.
“It’s horrible – that sort of result is unthinkable, I’ve never taken a beating like this in my career. I will take a long, hard look at myself.”
Magnay led the side out with Billy Paynter starting on the bench and Bates out injured,
The 27-year-old thought Pools were on for three points when Thomas gave then the lead but said it was all downhill after Pett made it 1-1.
“Before the game, we were all very confident and the first 15-20 minutes those feelings were justified.
“Their first goal seemed a huge psychological blow.”