Smith reflects on ‘toughest test’ as a manager

Gary Smith. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Gary Smith. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Stevenage manager retains belief that his players have the quality to turn their form around

GARY Smith says turning around Stevenage’s fortunes is the biggest test of his managerial career to date.

The Boro boss watched on from the sidelines on Saturday as his side was beaten 2-0 by Colchester United, the club’s sixth straight league defeat.

That loss leaves Stevenage just seven points off the relegation zone with Smith saying after the game that his side requires three wins from the remaining 12 games to survive in League 1 this season.

Three victories will leave his side on 52 points – six short of the club’s points target for the current season – but with Smith’s men struggling for form ahead of third-place Brentford’s visit on Tuesday evening, Stevenage are currently experiencing their toughest period since entering the Football League in 2010.

Another change in tactics – to a diamond formation – and a shuffling of the pack on Saturday failed to yield a win, and just as with the second 45 minutes in Scunthorpe last Tuesday there was no chance of note on target for Boro in the second half of this encounter.

Smith believes that he has the players who can turn his side’s fortunes around, but added that if his players do not perform to their best tomorrow evening (Tuesday) then they could be on the end of another disappointing result.

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“Of course we’re all bitterly disappointed to get beat, and again at home,” Smith said.

“It’s the toughest challenge without a shadow of a doubt that I’ve faced as a young manager and what I can tell you is that the players and myself and all of the staff are well and truly up for it.

“It becomes almost a natural occurrence that when you concede a goal, especially after four or five defeats on the spin, the feelings are ‘here we go again’. But the players are very good individuals, they are very good characters.

“They are feeling the pinch at the moment, we all are, but our challenge is probably three wins to make sure we secure our League 1 status.

“I’ve absolutely no doubt in the last 12 games we can get that. We have the bodies to do it, we have the players’ mentality to do it, and the staff are fully behind each and every individual in the changing room to get it done.

“Is it going to be easy? Absolutely not. And somehow someway we have to get a result to try and change everybody’s perspective.

“In this league as we’ve seen today Colchester are fighting for their lives, is [Brentford] going to be any tougher than playing against a team that know their status is at stake? I don’t think so.

“I think it gets more out of my players who know that if they’re not on form they could not only get beat but they’ll take a spanking as well.”