Andy Mangan pointed the finger at Fleetwood Town’s under-performing stars, insisting the club did have the firepower to escape League Two.
The 26-year-old said Fleetwood’s fans and chairman were right to have expected more from the club’s first season in the Football League.
He said: “I don’t think the expectation was unrealistic. We’ve got players here who probably have underperformed.
“I’ve been injured but I take responsibilty for that as well. We haven’t won enough games. We haven’t been good enough.”
Mangan was a key player in Fleetwood’s Conference promotion side but has missed most of this season with a serious knee injury.
But’s he’s lost none of his appetite for success.
“I want to be in winning sides,” he said. “I want to be in a club that matches my ambitions, and my ambition is never to stop, to carry on going and going.
“We had players good enough to get out of this league, either automatically or through the play-offs, even to win this league, and we haven’t.”
The former Blackpool trainee’s second-half strike was a welcome one for Mangan but he believes he could have hauled Fleetwood back into the match.
“I’ve been out for six months, so to get that goal is a nice monkey off the back but I actually should have scored two more. One of the chances was probably easier. I’ve got to put them in. It’s my responsibility to score goals.
“I’ve taken my chance once but I should have had three.”
For Mangan, Fleetwood’s inability to score when on top – Town dominated the first 40 minutes – let them down.
He said: “I thought the first half was the best we have played for a long time.
“We played some lovely stuff and then the goals killed us just before half-time, the way they would anyone. You’ve got to score when you’re on top,
“But I don’t want anyone going away saying it’s the striker’s fault or a defender’s fault. We take responsibility as a unit. “We win together and we lose together.”
But Mangan vowed Fleetwood would come back stronger, having learned lessons from their debut campaign. “It’s the story of the season,” he said. “We’ve won 15, drawn 15 and lost 15 – it’s very inconsistent.
“We’ll try to win at AFC Wimbledon to end it on a high.
“But we know we need to be better. We need to take responsibility, take stock of what has happened this season and come back next year and win the league.”