Key elements will help shape Cambridge United's future, says Mark Bonner
Mark Bonner has identified the key elements to build Cambridge United's future.
He will take charge of his seventh match as interim head coach when the U's travel to Leyton Orient tomorrow (Saturday, March 7) in Sky Bet League Two, but after losing their five-match unbeaten run in a 2-1 defeat to Carlisle United last weekend.
Nothing has surprised him since taking charge of the team, though, with the former assistant head coach all too familiar with what the current squad were capable of achieving.
And he knows what he is looking for as they plan for the longer term.
“I feel like you know them well when you work with them and you see them every day, in the good times and the bad times. That’s probably when you learn about people most," said Bonner.
“Who is consistent? Who has got high standards off the pitch and around the training ground? Who delivers performances game after game? Who doesn’t change too much regardless of whether they when or lose.
“Those things are really key elements that we have to keep looking for to make sure we build the right group of players here, and the right group of people as well of players in the team.
“It’s an ongoing process that we deal with, and I wouldn’t say that there’s too much I have learnt about players.
“Just like when we went on the run we did prior to Saturday, it didn’t surprise me because I know there is that potential in there.
“What can definitely be said is there hasn’t been enough consistency over a long period of time here, we haven’t won enough consecutive games and we’ve had too many ups and downs along the way.
“We’ve got to find that level of ruthlessness and relentless to deliver performances game on game and have a bit more conviction of what we’re about.
“That’s what I’m pushing for this weekend - the result will be an outcome of the performance and the performance will always be driven by our attitude to the game."
It begs the question whether Bonner will therefore learn more about his squad after the trip to Leyton Orient, in terms of how they respond and bounce back after the defeat to Carlisle.
“I think maybe we will just see if there is a response from that," he said.
“We’ve always had a way here that adversity drives us. When it’s been really bad, we’ve delivered something. We’ve pulled something out of the bag when we’ve needed to.
“At times, winning has made us soft and we haven’t won enough games consecutively.
"We’ve got to get the balance right between them, and the best teams and players come back really quickly when their level drops and don’t let it become a rut or a run of bad performances.
“I know the players have got it in them because they’ve done it before, they’ve now just got to go on and do it."
Bonner added: “Ten games to go, how good can you be and how long can you be good for is what we’re aiming for."