Colin Calderwood urges Cambridge United to get the basics right
Colin Calderwood never wants to experience the feeling of Cambridge United’s humbling at MK Dons again.
The 6-0 reverse on New Year’s Day stemmed from an awful first 12 minutes, in which they found themselves 3-0 adrift.
It was a shock to the system for the U’s, and a blow to their hopes of pulling clear of the lower reaches of the Sky Bet League Two table.
New head coach Calderwood admits that it came as a bolt from the blue after the win over Crawley and a narrow defeat to Lincoln City over the festive period.
“Hopefully we’ve seen the worst of us because you wouldn’t want to drop too far below the last game. Where it comes from, we don’t know,” he said.
“I was happy with the two home performances but our away level of performance hasn’t even been in contention or anywhere near the competition level.
“We obviously have to address that, and why it happens we don’t know.
“We were behind early in the game, and were out of it, but our start has got to be much more improved and we’ve got to be a lot harder to play through and against.
“It was a really humbling experience and not one you ever want to repeat, but in football competition it can happen and I think it really showed the vulnerability of the group and we obviously have to do way better.”
Calderwood was encouraged by the response from the players after going 3-0 down so early on, and did not fault the squad’s endeavour.
Now, though, he wants to see more resolve to their performances.
“It wasn’t for the lack of effort, good effort and good practice, we know that,” he said.
“I’ve got to give the players an amount of credit as they recovered after that horrible start and played for a period but then we ended the game doing what we did at the beginning.
“That sandwich is nowhere near what they want or what the supporters, especially, want, and as a new manager you are looking for a bit more stability, backbone, grit and determination.
“We have to accept that is what we can produce and have produced but we’re not happy. It’s a good examination of ourselves as individuals and certainly a very good examination of what I think of my policies but also what I’m able to get from them.”
He added: “We’ve got to look at ourselves from within a little bit. There is nothing more embarrassing and humbling than that type of result, but it’s not that the players didn’t try, we just didn’t produce good basics.”