My players need to take responsibility – FCV Academy manager Grant Brown
Thirty-four goals conceded in 12 matches. That’s FCV's defensive record for the month of November and it doesn't make easy reading for manager Grant Brown.
The leaky backline hasn't prevented the Academy grabbing good results, though. Some magnificent performances at the other end have produced successes such as the 4-4 draw against Lincoln City's Academy side, and a 3-2 triumph over Mansfield Town Brooksby after being two goals down at the break.
The way his team has fought back to get results in games is pleasing for Brown, but as a defender that made over 500 professional appearances, he is well aware that his side are letting themselves down.
“We’ve had to fightback from losing positions on a number of occasions,” explained Brown, who spent the majority of his playing career with Lincoln.
“We need to tighten things up defensively, and as a former defender it’s disappointing that we’re conceding poor goals. It’s not good enough to be having to score four goals or more to win a match.
"We need to defend better as a team, but it’s not just the backline and goalkeeper’s job, defending is an 11-man effort.
“I’m comfortable talking about defending with the players on the training ground, but I can’t play the game for them. The players have to take responsibility for their play and stop conceding silly goals.
"It’s not often we’re conceding good goals from pieces of play we have to applaud; our mistakes are costing us. It’s down to us not coping with situations.”
At the other end, FCV have been free-scoring throughout November, finding the target on 33 occasions across the 12 fixtures, netting more than two goals in seven of those match-ups.
The team's latest victory was a 5-1 triumph over Grantham Town at Borderville, a game in which striker Khalid Rahim got himself on the scoresheet four times. That victory on Wednesday followed a 6-4 defeat, when the Academy conceded two late goals.
“We pose a real threat in front of goal,” said Brown. “When we go 2-0 down we still feel we’re in a game because we’ve got goals. It’s very pleasing, we want to start taking the lead in games so that we don’t have to continue chasing games.”
The team will continue to work hard on the training pitch to improve at the back, and the key to improving will be the team ethos created by Brown and his coaching staff.
Team chemistry has been one of the key components for the coaching staff to work on, with the manager having to build a squad consisting of players from all over the world – from such countries as Bermuda, India and Ghana.
“The lads have to live together and see each other every day,” Brown responded when asked about why the relationships of his players are key.
“Not everyone is going to get on with the other 30 lads in the group perfectly, but we want to have a team ethos and team spirit. We want a group of players that want to help each other out and work for their team.
“They collect the kit and clean up together to become responsible as a team, with the hope that they take that attitude out onto the pitch. There are good characters in the squad so it’s a promising sign.
“It’s of more importance at FCV because of the mix we have. There is such a diversity in the group so they need to get on with each other. Myself and the coaches appreciate that people are different and will react to different situations.
“The local lads know it’s cold at this time of year and are very much used to it, our bodies are ready. But we’ve got lads from sunnier climates like Africa and India so they’ve had to adjust and wrap up a little bit more than the rest of us.
"Most importantly, we want the lads to keep enjoying it, performing and improving.”