Dave Jones says Hartlepool United’s young players must grow up and grow up quickly.
Jones said he felt some sympathy for his youthful side after they suffered a 4-0 defeat at Mansfield Town to drop a place in the table to 19th – just five points above the bottom two.
Before I came here I saw this club as perennial fighters, forever trying to stay in the division.
The Pools boss has warned everyone since his arrival at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium that transforming Pools would not be an overnight occurrence.
And having seen his side collapse at Field Mill, following a bright enough start, will have reinforced that view.
On-loan Sheffield United midfielder Ben Whiteman struck twice with the first and last goals, sandwiching efforts by Danny Rose and sub Alex MacDonald.
Jones believes he has good technical players but those players need other “ingredients” such as experience and mental strength.
“Before I came here I saw this club as perennial fighters, forever trying to stay in the division,” he said.
“It’s a hard thing to change in the whole football club.
“The culture has to change but the players are young enough to learn.
“Football has a tendency to make you grow up quickly and if you don’t it has the tendency to leave you by the wayside.”
Jones admits he is still getting to know the players and know what makes them tick.
But he has discovered already that he needs to fix that mental fragility when Pools go behind on the road that defeat becomes an inevitability.
“You don’t bring in a new manager when everything is hunky-dory,” he told SportMail.
“It’s hard, I’m getting to know the players and knowing what they are capable of.
“At the moment, you see a good performance then you see the bad.
“It’s the same in one match, on Saturday we started well but after 20 minutes we capitulate for a bit then pick ourselves up.
“It reminds me of junior football, but then when I see the dressing room, there are a lot of young players in there.
“We have to grow quickly.”
The senior players are not vast in number in the Pools team.
Of the starting XI on Saturday, only three were over 25 but Jones wants to see the senior men make a greater impact.
“I just see two different teams,” said the manager. “I see them work hard in training and the team starts well, but it’s that first goal which changes us.
“If we’d got to half-time 0-0, it could be totally different.
“As soon as the goal went in, you see the body language change. But we do have senior players out there and that can’t happen.”
Jones says he will not sweep the defeat under the carpet.
The vastly-experienced manager says the players must learn lessons fom a painful afternoon.
“When people say you put it to bed and move on, you can’t, you have to learn from it,” said Jones. “Player for player we might have been better than them, but we didn’t have the other ingredients.
“Mansfield ran, they chased, they put us under pressure, they won the ball. We want everything to be cushy, the players haven’t got that grit and that’s what they have to find.
“Technically, our team is very good, every one of them are very good. But you have to add the other ingredients. We need them to transfer their home form away.”