Alexander: I’ll lead Fleetwood Town turnaround

Graham Alexander insists he won’t pay any attention to speculation after a massacre on the Medway piled pressure on the Fleetwood boss.
Antoni Sarcevic sums up the feelings of the Fleetwood teamAntoni Sarcevic sums up the feelings of the Fleetwood team
Antoni Sarcevic sums up the feelings of the Fleetwood team

Town threw away a lead in the most spectacular fashion - four goals in 16 minutes, three inside six, consigning them to a heavy defeat on the road at Gillingham.

Town have won just twice this term and are winless in six, having lost their last three.

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It’s uncharted territory for a club used to nothing but success - the League One relegation zone looming for Fleetwood - who face fellow strugglers Scunthorpe at the weekend.

Town’s terrible start has led to speculation in some quarters and fervoured gossip on the internet that the trip to Glanford Park could be a crucial one for Alexander.

But the Town boss insists he’s paying no attention to idle talk - keeping his focus on turning Fleetwood’s fortunes around.

“I don’t know about pressure, I couldn’t tell you,” he told The Gazette.

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“I don’t have my mind open to all the rumours and tittle-tattle that goes on around football.

“I never have done, I never did as a player when I was going through tough times.

“I never have done as a manager and I won’t do now.

“My only focus is on the team, the players and getting them best prepared for the next game.

“That’s what we’re going to do.

“We’ve got a lot whose careers are emerging and there’s going to be some tough times along the way.

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“We don’t have to accept it, we won’t accept it but we have to learn from these tough lessons.

“They have to be lessons, they can’t be episodes that can be swept away.

“We haven’t competed an anywhere near the level we expect for that period.

“We haven’t seen it before, to be honest.

“And we have to make sure it never happens again.”

And the Fleetwood boss made it clear who, in his mind, would be leading the turnaround at Highbury.

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The former Burnley and Preston defender made it clear he’s faced tough times before and is ready to square up to the major problems facing him.

“I made my debut at Gillingham,” he said.

“First day of the season, we lost 4-0, I got booked.

“Nobody felt sorry for me then.

“I had to learn from it, I had to toughen up and get on with the job.

“That’s what we have to do as a group, as individuals.

“But I’ll be behind them all the way.

“I’ll lead this group and we will improve.”

The Fleetwood boss might need to be cut some slack.

He’s attempting to rebuild the squad on a fraction of previous budgets - his efforts hampered by a defensive crisis.

Richard Wood - brought in on loan from Rotherham to boost numbers at the back, did not travel to Kent, Town forced to start with a makeshift central defensive trio - all of them natural full backs.

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It was the perfect storm for Fleetwood - their defensive frailties mercilessly exploited by a ruthless Gills attack.

“We took the lead, deservedly so,” said Alexander.

“We’re doing OK and then a long throw breaks us down and we have 10 or 15 minutes of madness.

“We conceded poor goals in quick succession and spoiled any probability of getting anything positive from the game.

“The second half was a matter of just getting some pride out of it.

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“But we were nowhere near good enough for that spell and we’re not going to kid anyone and say we deserved anything out of it.”

And he insists the first half collapse wasn’t a tactical issue, but one of simple defensive mistakes.

Alexander continued: “What’s tactical about long throws?

“What’s tactical about free kicks into your box.

“That’s not about tactics, that’s about wanting to put your head on a ball, simple as.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t withstand their physical prowess up top, from set pieces.

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“There were a lot of balls going in and we couldn’t deal with them.

“All the strikes they had, virtually, went in the back of the net.”

Fleetwood’s defensive woes were worsened by a late red card for Eggert Jonsson - who earned a second yellow for hauling back Luke Norris.

Alexander felt aggrieved by the decision.

He said: “I didn’t see the red card, I didn’t see who the foul was against.

“I was asking the fourth why we hadn’t had a penalty.

“I didn’t see the foul, Eggert has told me it wasn’t even a free kick.

“But what’s going to happen away from home with the crowd baying?”