Damian Irvine took the post-match questions in the absence of manager Dennis Kutrieb who was isolating as part of the club’s standard lockdown guidelines.
“Covid protocols are standard throughout our club, whether you’re the manager, you work in the ticket office or you’re a player so it’s an isolation period for various different covid reasons,” Irvine told BBC Radio Kent. “It happens regularly at football clubs these days and unfortunately it fell on a matchday for Dennis. He was obviously very disappointed not to be here but there’s nothing to worry about and he’ll be back next week.”
It was Fleet’s first home defeat of the season and the CEO reflected the players’ and supporters’ disappointment at the end of the 90 minutes:
“I’m obviously very disappointed with the result and as we know certainly the supporters will be and all the players are,” he said. “I’ve just listened to Tonbridge’s manager there saying how we had them on the back foot the whole game and dominated them in all aspects. We’re very aware of that but we’re also very aware that the end result is what is important and the ball has to go in the net when we forge those chances. And we have to not concede a simple goal just on half-time which really changed the half-time talk and obviously what we’re doing in the second half.”
Fleet have dominated possession in numerous matches this season but haven’t always put opponents to the sword and being more ruthless is something both the manager and now Irvine have spoken of.
“Two points which are probably consistent in the last month for us,” said Irvine, “are dominating possession and dominating teams, things going well to plan in terms of what’s been worked on during the week, but that end product in terms of being ruthless and getting the ball in the net in the final third hasn’t been working and it wasn’t working today as well. And that soft goal to concede 30 seconds before the half-time whistle was telling.
“We’re very very aware that dominating and playing better than the opponents is all well and good but you have to get the three points and have to make it happen.”
There’ll be no panic in the Fleet camp after only a second defeat in nine games and while Irvine recognises things haven’t always reached the standards expected on the pitch and that there’s work to be done, he’s confident that will be achieved.
“Our measure of success is the end of the season and where we stand at the end of the season,” he said. “It’s early days, really it is for us, we’ve not had 10 games yet.
“We are trying to do things a little bit differently, a new style of football. We always said that after 10 games we’d have a bit of a measure of where we’re at, what needs to be done. Even with results in the last month, we’ve had some results and still not been happy. We have very high standards and it’s fair to say that at times we haven’t been at our best to where we want to be but have still been banking points. That stopped today to be fair, so we need to get back to banking points and then we’ll be happy. We work week to week and this week was a bad one for us.
“It certainly hurts every player in there and all the staff, and if it doesn’t hurt we’ve got a real problem. It’s one of those days, it’s a bad week, we’ve lost a derby game and we weren’t at our best on Tuesday either.
“They’re not the standards that we expect and not the standards the players expect either. While it’s not clicking at the moment there is a lot of things that are and there are a lot of things that aren’t as well, so we’re a work in progress. We are up there at the the top end of the table, certainly nowhere near where we want to be performance-wise, so in context that’s not a bad place to be because we know there’s so much more room for improvement and so much more in us. We’ve got a lot of time to make that happen.
“So to be where we are and so unsatisfied in our performance, if there’s a silver lining to today’s performance, that is it.”
And the CEO insists the long-term picture is where the club will direct success.
“Anything worth doing takes time – the right way,” he said. “We were very aware of that. We’re anti the boom or bust culture of things: to throw things at it and then if it doesn’t work, chop and change. The club’s probably been guilty of that a little bit over the years so we know what we need, we know what we’re working towards and we’ll give it all the time and patience it needs to do that. We are going in the right direction but you have days like today where the result isn’t what you want, but it’ll come, it really will, so in terms of that long term-ism, that’s what we’re about here and every week we’re working towards it.”