Fleetwood Town aren’t wanted in the League One play-off spots, insists manager Graham Alexander.
The Town boss made his astonishing claim in an outburst after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Bristol City, during which he slammed referee Gavin Ward for caving in to pressure from the Ashton Gate crowd.
Having played for the likes of Burnley, Preston, Scunthorpe and Luton, Alexander is no stranger to being an underdog.
And he gets the feeling Town’s continued challenge for a play-off place is getting the backs up of the League One establishment
Alexander asked: “Who wants Fleetwood in the top six, outside of Fleetwood?
“Nobody wants us. They want the big boys. That’s what’s happening.
“We’ve got to find a way to deal with it. We can’t cry about it.
“I’m having a good old whinge because I’m standing up for my team.”
The former defender knows his side made mistakes at Ashton Gate but stands firm behind his belief that the odds are stacked against Fleetwood whenever they play in front of a big away crowd.
“We’re not going to hide the things we could have done better,” he said.
“We’ve just got to find a way to get around the other issues, a way to compensate.
“All we can do is keep playing for the supporters of Fleetwood and for each other.”
More than 11,000 were packed into Bristol City’s home on Sunday afternoon.
And Alexander accused the match officials of being “unable to handle” the crowd, insisting that man for man his side could match the league leaders.
“We have competed, we can compete,” said Alexander.
“We go into a derelict park and play Bristol City and we’ll compete. As soon as the atmosphere kicks off, certain officials can’t handle it, they can’t.
“I look at my team and I know there’s a lot to be proud about. Can they compete against the best teams in this division? Without a doubt.”
“There have been other occasions – Preston at Deepdale, games like that.
“These things are hard to take. We put in so much work as a staff and it’s taken cheaply away from us. Do clubs like Bristol City need a hand? I don’t think so but they get one.”
All Alexander believes he can do is help Town channel the underdog spirit.
“You have to find all your motivation,” he added. “And if you are the underdog, you have to find a way to be successful.
“A lot of players and staff here have been underdogs our whole careers. We haven’t played for big clubs. You have to find a way to compete, whether it’s through work ethic, game management, a little bit of nous.
“We might have to be whiter than white, but whatever the answer is we’ve got to learn it quickly.
“It’s important because there’s a bright future ahead for this football team.”
Town host Peterborough United on Saturday before a midweek trip to Barnsley.