Joey Barton has challenged his Fleetwood Town side to show the mental strength necessary to perform consistently in League One.
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Town slipped a place to fifth after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers and Barton questioned his squad’s mentality.
And the Cod Army boss warned that players who don’t take lessons on board will not be involved.
Barton said: “I just don’t think our players can handle the mentality of it, if I’m being honest.
“Until they start showing the level of maturity that’s needed to push on, we need to stay in that one-game-at-a- time mindset.
“We’ve got a tough fixture against Barnet next in the FA Cup, which is the lifeblood of clubs like us.
“We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves but we also won’t get too disappointed. We’re gutted that we haven’t won the game at Bolton but it’s not fatal.
“We have to make sure that people keep learning lessons, and if they don’t it’s my job to remove them and find someone who can.
“It’s about moments –that’s what’s turning my hair the shade of grey it’s starting to go. If I’m not careful it will be falling out soon!
“It’s one of those where you know they’re capable of it – we see it on the training ground. It’s just about doing it when it matters.
“We’ve got lads who are capable of doing it for 87, 88 minutes but you can’t have five seconds off . You can’t have a second off – this is football.
“Once you go into the next ecosystem of the Championship, if you have half a second off you get punished.
If you go into the Premier League and even think about switching off you get done.
“The game’s about levels – some of our players are showing they want to climb the levels, some of them are showing the capability of doing that.
Barton wants his side to find consistent form, but admits he is still learning how best to get his message across and to improve as a coach.
“They just need to find a consistency,” he added. “If they find it, they’ve got a chance. If they don’t, unfortunately they’ll have to keep scrapping away until the day they do find it and then they can progress as players.
“As a coach, you try everything you can with information and cajoling them, getting after them when you need to, repetition.
“Some players pick it up quicker than others, that’s the difference between coaching and playing.
“For me as a coach, that’s the patience you need.
“I’m learning every day, learning how to be a better coach, a better manager, a better tactician, better human being – every single day. I’m not long enough in the job to say, ‘I just need to relax’.
“So we’re on that journey but nobody’s dead, it’s not fatal.
“We’ve made some stupid errors, but we’ve done loads of good things and we can be more clinical in the final third.
“At Barnet next week I expect a response, as I always do. If we don’t, then we’ll be dumped out of the FA Cup.”