Smith on Oldham, and Roberts’ omission

Stevenage boss Gary Smith during Boro's defeat to Oldham

Stevenage boss Gary Smith during Boro's defeat to Oldham - Credit: Archant

STEVENAGE boss Gary Smith has stood by his apology to supporters after Tuesday’s loss to Oldham and explained his reasons for the omission from the side of captain Mark Roberts, writes Sam Glanz.

Boro were humbled 2-1 at home to the Latics with Roberts left out of the team for the second consecutive game.

“There is nothing sinister in this,” said the manager.

“I certainly wouldn’t take the steps that I have without speaking to the player, especially my captain.

“It was felt that his form had dipped below the very high standards that he keeps.

“Yes he gives us other qualities; there are no two ways about that. The guy wears his heart on his sleeve, he’s a very courageous man and a terrific professional as well.

“But I don’t think anyone’s immune, especially in a difficult run, to actually sitting on the sidelines and just re-evaluating.

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“Certainly for someone like Mark, who I’m sure has aspirations of becoming a coach or a manager in the future, you get a different perspective and then when you come back into the side again you can draw on that a little bit.”

Smith added that he felt the qualities of Darius Charles at the centre of defence were more suited to the challenges presented by the teams faced: “Those were my reasons, along with the fact that I felt maybe a slightly different sort of quality in Darius, a bit more pace, a bit more athleticism, would be of help.

“It didn’t work out that way.”

The manager also said he sympathises with supporters who may have been unhappy with the decision.

“I understand the disappointment of fans who support Mark and the team and see him as good leader and they have every right to but, and let’s forget about Mark right now, if certain individuals in the team are untouchable then in the end it starts to affect others around them and it affects their game as well.

“At least everyone in this team knows that there is competition and if the job’s not getting done properly then you can expect to be sitting on the bench and fighting for your place again.”

Following the midweek result, Smith took the unusual step of issuing a public apology to supporters, a decision he feels was very much warranted, despite it being a bit out of character.

“The fans have been very loyal, they’ve kept behind the team, and deserved that explanation and more importantly an apology for yet again, a poor result,” he said.

“I’m speaking on behalf of all the players as well, everyone at the end of the game was pretty clear on the way game had unfolded and consequently the result, so maybe a step I wouldn’t normally have taken but I thought it was necessary.”