North End manager, Alex Neil gave a frank response when asked for his verdict on this afternoon’s loss.
Although the manager admitted his players were not at the standards he expects following today’s loss to Ipswich, he conceded that the blame does not just lie on the players for today’s loss.
“To win any game, you need seven or eight of your players to play well, the simple fact is, I’m struggling to name any players that performed as well as they can,” said Neil to iFollow PNE post-match.
“But the bottom line is, I pick the team and I pick the way we play and I’ll take my fair share of criticism that comes my way on the back of that.
"We’re all disappointed with how we performed but I think towards the end, it got towards the desperation stage where we were putting Hunts up top to see if we could force anything, and even that didn’t work so it was certainly an off day in every sense.
“We didn’t perform anywhere near the levels, it’s difficult to criticise the players with how much they’ve done recently. We’ve played two games with one less man and played really well against Aston Villa, and we’ve came here with a real expectancy to turn up and play well, but the simple fact is, is that we didn’t do that.
"I thought we were flat and didn’t deserve to take anything from the match. It’s probably my first time as a manager since I’ve been here that I’ve had to change personnel and shape to get us back into it because we didn’t look like we were doing anything.”
Neil conceded to iFollow that he spotted the drop in performance levels early on in the game, and was quick to change things by bringing off Calum Woods and Callum Robinson for Josh Earl and Josh Harrop on 38 minutes.
The manager did his upmost to change North End’s fortunes, but ultimately conceded that it was a bad day at the office for his players.
“I’m not overly comfortable with doing that and it’s not something I regularly do,” said Neil after making the double change before half-time. “But I just couldn’t see us getting anything from the game, and sometimes you can do something out of the ordinary and sometimes you can get a response but unfortunately we didn’t and we need to buckle down and go again.
“You can play with two up front, one up front, it really doesn’t matter - if you don’t do the fundamentals well enough which is when you’ve got it, pass it nice and crisp and when you haven’t got it, to win second balls and we didn’t do that enough today and that’s disappointing.
Neil added: “We were flat in training yesterday so I finished it early because I think they just needed a rest both physically and mentally.
“We’ve got a lot of young lads who have not been competing regularly at this level too long and we’ve demanded a lot out of that.
"I thought they showed signs of that yesterday so I sent them in early and that didn’t change.
“I did everything I could to give them a jolt and I was more than forceful at half-time to get a response, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t think mentally and physically they had it in them today.”