A clearly angry Kevin Watson pulled no punches after Fleet’s 7-0 defeat at Barrow, thanking the travelling supporters and believing they should be recompensed in some way while at the same time accusing his side of an unacceptable downing of tools.
“As you can imagine it’s not a case of ‘well played and well done, see you next week’ by any stretch of the imagination,” he told BBC Radio Kent’s Chris Sykes. “I have no excuses, not even being down to 10 men. We’ve proved when we’ve been down to 10 men before this season against Hartlepool and we came back against them and drew 2-2.
“There is a way to play with 10 men and today our defending as a team… well, it wasn’t defending. I defend my players and I have defended them since the moment I came in and they’ve given me a lot, a hell of a lot, which is shown in performances the majority of the time and half-decent results. The draws, a few wins, couple of losses but today for 25 minutes of the second half we actually defended quite well and limited Barrow to not many opportunities.”
But after a poor Christmas return in terms of points and today’s shipping of seven goals, the manager’s patience has run low.
“There needs to be changes now. I’ve inherited Garry Hill’s squad with the only additions I brought in, Albie Morgan who returned to Charlton and Marvel Ekpiteta. I am numb, I would like to say a massive thank you to our supporters that have have paid to travel up here and put their selves out of pocket to travel up here. I know money has come from places that will leave them short and I will try to get us to look after them in any way we can going forward. Because what was served up in the last 20 minutes will not happen again under my watch. It will not happen again.”
The incidents in the game were almost immaterial to the final scoreline and while Watson had a few issues surrounding the first two goals, he underlined the fact neither of them were to be used as excuses.
“I felt Jack King was fouled for the first goal as all the players did and even the crowd behind me,” he said. “When you’re down there you don’t get those decisions. The sending-off possibly was right. The lad did have quite a way to go – who’s to say our full backs wouldn’t have got round – but that’s the decision, that’s gone against us but I’m not making an excuse.
“There is no chance of me making an excuse because we had 10 men. You can see games out with 10 men, you can defend, you can keep your shape. I said at half-time it’s going to be a defensive exercise now, how can we defend. No gaps. Unfortunately it was men against boys and that just will not happen again to one of my teams. And they’ve been told that. I don’t want anybody at any point downing tools like happened there. I’m not used to it. I’ve been used to success as a player and I know what it takes to be successful as a player and its not acceptable.”
And successful players are what Watson needs immediately if Fleet are to dig themselves out of an increasingly deeper hole. To that end, he will be spelling out to Steve Lovell the need for change… immediate change.
“I will be speaking to Steve Lovell and having a meeting to tell him exactly what we need to be better, to stay in this division,” he revealed. “The last 20 minutes of that today will not keep you in any division – ours, the league below, the league below that. This group I inherited have come a way, quite a way. We’ve had better results but we still are where we are.
“We need a freshness to the club, to the playing staff. These boys have been stuck in a rut, stuck down the bottom of the league for the whole season. They’re used to being down the bottom of the league. You need fresh players that are going to come in and play with a freedom, like I’m asking them to play with, but to make good decisions, don’t be pent up. We’ve been in every game barring the Barnet game.
“But what we served up there in the last 20 minutes was nowhere near good enough.”