Defiant Carlisle United manager Greg Abbott insisted that he isn’t going anywhere despite mounting pressure from the terraces as his misfiring side conceded four more goals.
“I’m not giving up. No way!” was his immediate response to a question about the volley of ‘Abbott Out’ chants he faced following Leon Clarke’s second-half killer blow for Coventry.
But the acceptance that things just aren’t good enough from within the corridors of Brunton Park did little to calm the growing demand for action against the current third-longest serving manager in the country – only Arsene Wenger and Paul Tisdale have held their seats for longer.
“I don’t know where my resolve is coming from but I can absolutely tell you it’s there, ” Abbott said. “Those players are better than this. We know that and they know that, and they need me now more than ever.
“We’ve been hit over and over again and it’s time for us to start hitting back. This was really disappointing because the lads were pumped up before kick-off. It was a game they were ready for, but the confidence was knocked out of them within just a few minutes with that first goal. We have to stop that from happening.”
Leon Clarke has a habit of finding the back of the net when he faces United and he didn’t disappoint with two more crackers – a brace punctuated by equally pleasing to the eye strikes from Franck Moussa and Billy Daniels.
“The early goals left us chasing it again and it’s vital that we stop that from happening to us, ” captain for the day Sean O’Hanlon admitted. “I think if we can keep it tight and get the first goal we’ll be on the way to doing that.
“This is a young side and they’re learning all the time. It’s up to the older players in the group to get round them and help because we all know we need to improve. We’re all fully behind the manager because we’ve done the work on shape and defending, and things like that, but we have to take it on to the pitch.”
Midfielder James Berrett spurned United’s only real chance of getting back into the game when Joe Murphy palmed his drilled spot kick away.
The wretched Cumbrian luck was summed up in the second half when an audacious long-range Brad Potts effort, from well inside his own half, clattered the inside of the post before bouncing harmlessly into the keeper’s hands.
“We looked a poor side but, as daft as this sounds, we know we’re a good side,” Abbott said. “Sean O’Hanlon is there now, Lee Miller has served his suspension and we should have Matt Robson with us next week. That’s us starting to get back to where we want to be and I’m sure the football will come with it.”
Just one goal scored and 13 conceded from three games suggests that finding the mystery ingredient to entice the dwindling crowds back to Brunton Park will take more than a return to action for the so-called big hitters.
“This hurts and it isn’t nice to hear the fans react in this way, ” Abbott admitted. “All the supporters want is to go home with something to smile about. We aren’t giving them anything at the moment.
“This is the toughest period I have faced so far but we just need the time to get us through it. With all of our players available am I absolutely convinced that will be the case.”
CARLISLE: Gillespie, Potts, O’Hanlon, Feely, Black, Amoo, Noble, Berrett, Gillies (Symington 46), Guy (Campbell 46), Beck. Subs (not used): Livesey, Todd, Fleming, Lynch, Brough.
Booked: Black, Feely.
COVENTRY: Murphy, Christie, Webster, Jordan Clarke, Adams, Moussa, Fleck, Thomas (Barton 89), Daniels (Willis 84), Wilson (Manset 75), Leon Clarke. Subs (not used): Burge, Phillips, Garner, Haynes.
Booked: Daniels, Thomas, Moussa.
Goals: Leon Clarke 4, Moussa 6, Daniels 31, Leon Clarke 65.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).