Hartlepool United must be ruthless and ditch players who are letting the side down.
That was the view of straight-talking skipper Carl Magnay after Pools threw away a gilt-edged chance to move up to ninth in the National League at the half-way point of the season.
Pools were within minutes of moving to just two points from the play-off positions after Michael Woods had given them a 1-0 lead against Macclesfield.
However, the home side contrived to chuck it away with an horrendous finish to the contest at Victoria Park.
Pools conceded possession to allow sub Elliott Durrell to set up Ryan Lloyd’s 85th-minute equaliser and worse was to follow as the hosts made a real ‘horlicks’ of defending a free-kick, allowing Keith Lowe to nod in an injury-time winner.
Magnay faced the media after a lengthy dressing-room inquest after the match which, remarkably, saw Pools stay in 13th place in the table.
And the 28-year-old did not pull his punches, so to speak.
“We looked at both goals after the match to see where it went wrong,” he explained.
“How many times are we going to be here, we can’t unless we don’t want to achieve anything.
“It’s getting to the stage now where if we get cut any further adrift we have no chance of getting promoted.
“I think now is the time to be brutally honest as a group, if you are not pulling your weight, not doing your job diligently for the full 90 minutes then someone else will have to come in and do it.
“It’s as simple as that.
“We can’t keep talking about the same things week-in, week-out.
“I am not going to be one of those players who sit here and paper over the cracks and give out clichés.
“The fans deserve a bit of honesty and we as a group of players defensively allowed us to get hit on the break and beaten by a set-piece and it’s no where near good enough.”
The bizarre thing was Pools played well, only to throw it away at the death.
“Frustration,that’s the feeling,” added Magnay.
“There were some good passages of play through the game.
“At times we’ve played some nice football and created opportunities – certainly a lot more than down at Ebbsfleet and that’s a positive.
“We’re a broken record, we’re at a point where if we are going to achieve anything we have to be brutally honest.
“We’re all good friends but, in any line of work, if you keep making mistakes or not doing the job properly then decisions have to be made, but that’s out of our hands.
“We’ll work hard during the week to correct where we’ve gone wrong, but we’ve said it before, it’s like a merry-go-round.
“It’s frustrating for everyone involved, the supporters in particular.
“To have played well only adds to the frustration, arguably we should have had the game wrapped up, we should have been at least two up and then you see out the game comfortably.
“At 1-0 you are already treading a fine line.”
Magnay says the players must dig themselves out of this situation, admitting the club are not in a position to bring in new talent.
“I love my team-mates, every single one, and they are an honest bunch of people, no-one hides or shies away from what’s gone on,” said the ex-Chelsea defender. “But unfortunately you might be best mates but when it comes to winning games there has to be a ruthless way of going about it.
“It sounds harsh but it means players coming out of the team and others coming in, but that has happened.
“If I was the gaffer, I’d be sat there scratching my head
“The only thing we can do as players is work hard to put things right, the gaffer has worked hard to put things right.
“We haven’t got money to buy in players from a higher level to help us out, that’s not possible.”