Published: 07:39, 09 February 2020
| Updated: 07:43, 09 February 2020
Ebbsfleet United manager Kevin Watson has told his players to listen to their supporters.
Fleet fans sang ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ as they crashed out of the FA Trophy to Royston Town on Saturday.
Watson was not going to argue with the opinion of the Fleet faithful.
“Our fans since I’ve been at the club have been wonderful,” said Watson. “They support, they sing when you’re losing, they sing when you’re winning and they’re always with you.
“I always say fans and people who are not in football, coaching and managing, they have the best opinions.
“When they start singing ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’, I go in and tell the boys listen to that.
“If you don’t want to listen to anyone else, listen to that, because they will always give you an honest opinion.
“Just like at Torquay when we ran out socks off and got an admirable point, 70-odd supporters all stayed behind and clapped them to a man off the pitch - listen to those guys.”
Watson was not impressed that his squad failed to take on board the information from their pre-match briefing on Royston.
“You can tell (by) the length of time it has taken me to get out of the dressing room what I made of it,” said the Fleet boss.
“It’s galling when people don’t listen to what you say in terms of our preparation. We watched half an hour of footage of Royston beating Boreham Wood and Wealdstone. We had to match them physically and stand up to it.
“To be fair, it wasn’t the best game – quality was limited and low – but we did stand up to it. I thought that we’d be stronger in extra-time. Two errors have cost us the game.
“We had chances, first half Josh’s one was cleared off the line and Glash could have won it in the 90th minute. But in terms of decision making, doing the right things at the right time, it wasn’t good enough.
“I’m going to sound like a broken record but I’ve said to them after the Barrow game you went and drew with Torquay, beat Woking and drew with Sutton because we had a real bump, a real setback.
"I’ve said that’s the last setback you can afford to have. It’s not four games bump in the road, we’ll bounce back from it any more.
“It’s 13 games where you’ve got to be at it and have the desire to want to stay in this league like I most certainly do.
"There’s stuff that’s been said that stays in the dressing room with myself and my players but they’ve been left in no uncertain terms… everyone’s had a bit of a say and now it’s Chorley.
“I was fed up of people saying it was a break from the league and a break from three points. It wasn’t a free hit, I wanted to go to Wembley. I wanted to win this game, get a good draw, win the next one and then win the one after that.
“As a professional, as a manager, you should want to win every game you play in. I wouldn’t mind if the preparation had not been done so when it is done and people are told until you are blue in the face, then you have to start asking questions.”
When asked if Royston had more fight and desire than his players, Watson replied: “I’m not throwing any of my players under the bus, nor would I want to say that. You watched the game for yourselves, that’s what I would say.
“What I said in there stays between myself and the players, everyone will form their own opinions and I will speak to certain individuals about what I expect from a professional footballer.
“There’s no time now to be sulking, to be disappointed. We have to go back out and work hard, prepare right.
“We had a blip against Barrow and we came back with a little bit of fight in our belly. It wasn’t there (against Royston), not as much as I would like.
“We didn’t match them. We had a go but we didn’t quite match them. And when you don’t win enough battles on a football pitch from 1 to 11, you don’t win the game. There’s nothing tactical or technical in that, you won’t win the game.”
More by this authorMatthew Panting