SAM Collins admits that Hartlepool United have been served a harsh reality check on the eve of the new League season, with the skipper conceding: “We aren’t as good as we thought”.
The 35-year-old was making reference to Saturday’s 5-0 hammering at Crewe in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
It was a result, and performance, which stunned boss Neale Cooper and has left him considering changes ahead of this weekend’s League One opener at home to Swindon.
But Collins hopes the Crewe humbling will act as a wake-up call and believes supporters will see a response against Paolo Di Canio’s Robins.
“Swindon has to be a fresh start for us, we have to be ready and bounce back from Crewe,” said the captain.
“There are things to work on and hopefully it gives us a kick up the backside and makes us realise we aren’t as good as we thought we were.
“There has to be a reaction from everyone – if not then you don’t deserve to be in the team.
“I’ve been about long enough to understand my job as captain, so we regroup and get the lads back together and get things right for Swindon.
“I’m sure the fans will get behind us, they know what we are really about and they will stick with us.”
Collins and co have been left with no choice but to draw a line under their early League Cup exit.
And, for now, the squad are fully concentrated on emulating last season’s impressive league start which saw them set a new club record of nine without loss.
“It’s a good game to start the season on,” he said.
“We know they will be strong and they have come up like Crewe.
“But this can be a good season for us. It would have been nice to have a run in the cup but the league is our main concern.
“Pre-season had gone well for us, no-one was getting carried away, but we have the makings of a good team here.
“We have responded well when things have gone badly after being beaten convincingly in the past and we’ve got to do the same on Saturday.”
But Collins believes there were some positives to emerge from the heavy defeat at Gresty Road.
“There were some positives, we put good balls into Stevie (Howard) and he caused problems and had chances,” he added.
“Jonathan Franks did well and he got crosses over for Stevie. He is quick and direct and did well.
“But we have to work on getting back to keeping clean sheets and keeping it 0-0 - do that and I think we’ve got enough at the other end to win matches.”