Caretaker boss Craig Stanley admits his chances of securing the job on a permanent basis were dealt a severe blow on Tuesday night.
The Dolly Blues exited the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy at the first round stage – beaten 2-1 at home to North West Counties’ Premier Division outfit Charnock Richard.
The fixture was a great opportunity for the Dolly Blues to register their first win of the season against a team who are two divisions below them in the football pyramid.
Unfortunately, City never performed on the night – something which left the temporary boss scratching his head.
In the four previous games since he took charge of first-team affairs, Stanley has been pleased with the performances even if the results haven’t quite gone his way.
They have lost to South Shore and Basford United, on Saturday, in the NPL Premier Division, but picked up a point against North Ferriby United and also progressed in the League Cup thanks to a penalty shoot-out win over Radcliffe Borough.
However, Tuesday night’s display was certainly not good enough as far as Stanley was concerned and he has demanded an improvement when they take on Buxton away this weekend.
“The performance on Tuesday was bad,” said Stanley.
“Since I have come in as caretaker manager, the effort, application and commitment has been first class from the players, but it wasn’t there on Tuesday.
“I can’t accept a lack of effort and a lack of commitment.
“The players just did not perform which is the first time that has happened since I have come in and took charge of the team.
“Fair play to Charnock Richard, they deserved to win the game.
“They were the better team all over the pitch.
“It looked like they were the team from the NPL Premier Division and we were in the division two leagues below them.
“That’s the disappointing thing. As the caretaker manager, I did not see that performance coming but we have just got to get ready for Saturday now.”
The deadline for applications for the managerial position passed on Tuesday and chairman Stuart Houghton has indicated he will begin the process of interviewing candidates in the early part of next month.
Stanley is hoping he has done enough to show that he has the ability to do the job, but admits his first three points on Saturday will help his cause.
“I speak to the chairman all the time,” he said.
“I like to think I have done well, but as a manager you are judged on results and they have not quite gone for me.
“I’ve doubled the points tally since I took over and the performances have been better.
“But we need to get results now. There is no point playing well and losing.”
The 3-1 defeat to Basford on Saturday was a case in point.
Leading 1-0 courtesy of Matty Blinkhorn’s early goal, City failed to make their superiority count and they eventually conceded two late goals to lose 3-1.
Stanley believes a lack of confidence is the main problem among his players.
“We should have got some thing. It’s another game we had chances to win.
“Confidence is low and it’s like we don’t know how to win a game.
“For much of the game we were the better team but ended up losing 3-1.
“I can’t say too much about the third goal which came in the last minute and we were pushing forward. But the other two goals came about from people not doing their jobs.”
This weekend does not get any easier for Stanley and his men when they travel to face Buxton.
The Derbyshire-based outfit currently lie in sixth spot in the table and have won three out of three in front of their own fans.
Stanley admits after Tuesday, he may have to re-jig his personnel and formation in an effort to find the winning formula.
“It’s going to be tough on Saturday,” he said.
“Buxton are a very good team with good players all over the pitch.
“They have got three or four strikers who can score goals and in Liam Hardy they have got one of the top strikers in the league.
Stanley may be able welcome back Richie Baker to the squad this weekend while Tom Preston has a chance.
On Tuesday, City are away to Farsley Celtic.