Joe Dunne wants to see return of Cambridge United from last season
U's suffer opening day loss at Port Vale
Joe Dunne is calling on Cambridge United to rediscover the characteristics that served them so well last season after their opening day defeat at Port Vale.
Goals either side of half time from Ricky Miller and Tom Pope put the U’s on the back foot, and Miller went on to get a second to complete a 3-0 win for the Valiants in the first game of the new Sky Bet League Two campaign.
The performance led to head coach Dunne describing United as “unrecognisable”.
“There was a softness about us from a defensive point of view at times,” he said, “a softness about the challenges for the first and second balls which were key to what we did at the back end of last season.
“We’ve put everything together in pre-season and, like I said, it was just an unrecognisable performance from us but I don’t want to take anything away from Port Vale; I thought they were really motivated and fully deserved their win.”
Dunne expanded: “It was key moments that haven’t existed for us; we’ve always been 100 per cent focused and 100 per cent on it.
“Whichever way the game affected some of our players, it’s turned out to be negative. We’ve had a frank discussion.
“I don’t want to make it [about] just the one game, the whole season is ahead of us, but we talk about identity and bravery, that [performance] is not what we do. I’m very disappointed.
“Every single cog in the wheel was off. I never expected a performance like that, but they come and they’ve come at the start of the season so it’s the wake-up call some of these players need and we hopefully get one or two injured players back quickly because that squad needs bolstering.”
Paul Lewis, Brad Halliday, Jabo Ibehre and Jevani Brown were all ruled out for the trip to Vale Park, but Dunne is hoping Halliday and Ibehre will be back for this Saturday’s match at the Abbey Stadium.
“We’ve got Notts County coming, and then Newport, and then it’s Northampton so it’s well-documented that we’ve got a really tough start to the season,” he said.
“We can’t have too many more games like that, 100 per cent we can’t have too many more games like that.
“We’ve got to man up a bit, when the physicality comes that’s something we stopped last year. We were able to deal with it, we were able to get around it, we were able to dig in, fight.
“It’s been a real clear thing that I’ve been able to get into the players. They’ve still got it in them, but against Port Vale it wasn’t there, so we’ve got to unlock it.”