Boss challenges players to prove their mental strength
GARY Johnson has challenged his Yeovil Town players to up their game and show they are mentally and physically capable of competing in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Glovers slumped to their seventh defeat of the season on Tuesday night against Leicester City, where again they showed their quality to match the division's best only to prove toothless in the final third and fail to make their dominance count.
They head to 19th-placed Middlesbrough on Saturday occupying the last of the second tier's relegation spots and with their manager hungry to seal a victory that could hopefully spark another and keep them in touch with mid-table.
However, with the Glovers now at Johnson's traditional ten-game milestone, the boss said he would be analysing every member of his squad to see if they had what it takes to start a fight back.
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"We have certainly got a work rate," he said. "Individuals have got to up their individual performances. They have got the ability but they have got to realise it and produce it mentally as much as physically.
"Mentally they have got to be able to produce it at Championship level. Some of them have had the opportunity, some haven't had as much, but we're now going to have to look to see which ones will take us into the next group of games."
James Hayter's penalty was not just Yeovil's first goal from a striker this season but their first at Huish Park in the league. Johnson admitted the challenge of the Championship was tougher for a team that had few attacking problems in League One, but added they had to be more intelligent and less "panicky".
He said: "We're at a different level. We have got to earn the shots, we have got to earn the cleverness. The better teams will bend the shots into the top corners, we're hitting them straight at the defender who will throw himself in front.
"We have just got to be clever. When we show them the shots that we had and that they (Leicester) had we will see that sometimes they shape to shoot and check back enough so that the defender's gone and then they shoot. We have got to be a bit cleverer.
"We are just a little bit panicky and we wanted to get our shot off straight away, rather than think about it and either have another touch or use the bend of the ball. We seem to get there and just kick it, we are not really manoeuvring the ball well enough.
"We are trying to work on that but when it comes to them in the split second they are still snatching the ball."
Johnson said he was well-aware of the role he, assistant Terry Skiverton and coach Darren Way had to play in drilling the team into shape.
"It's up to us to teach them and help them and make them better," he said. "I want to see a goal where we have got to the edge of the box and bent it in the top corner like the top strikers do.
"The whole team put in a fantastic work rate but of course all sections have to improve. The front two have got to hold up the ball more, they have got to score more goals, they have got to create more goals for each other.
"Midfielders have got to find more through balls so the strikers have got to find more runs. The wingers have got to get more crosses, I can go right through the team. We have got to be better all-round but because our energy and work rate is keeping us in games we are also getting half chances.
"But we are not a million miles away and I think again when we came off the pitch, how many supporters were clapping the players off when it was their fifth defeat and their first home goal? I think they have seen that the lads have given it a right go and there's value for money because I thought that was a real Championship game and we were a part of it."