After Gary Smith’s departure from Stevenage FC, captain Mark Roberts was named as temporary Player/Manager and he spoke to the official website today.
It was confirmed at midday that after a run of 13 defeats in the last 18 games manager Smith had parted company with the club and at a quiet training ground Roberts described his reaction to the news; “I think it always comes as a shock, the run of results of late have not been what anyone has wanted but when that decision is made it comes as a surprise to you all. It’s something that unfortunately happens in football and we have to make sure that those who remain here rally together, become strong as one and that we get the very best out of ourselves.”
Smith came to Boro in January 2012 and guided the club to the Play offs, ultimately losing out to Sheffield United in the Semi-Finals before continuing life in League One with a 12 game unbeaten run this season.
Since December results have taken a turn for the worse but Roberts said that the players must also take some blame for that.
“It’s a massive disappointment for Gary and the management team to be leaving the football club because they were doing a lot for positive work for the team. They’ve put a lot of positive things in place and brought a lot of players to the football club that will bring success to the club in the future.”
Mark continued, “For one reason or another it hasn’t worked out, and I think as players we have to take a huge part of the responsibility for that. I think the players, on too many occasions, have let the management side down and we’re fortunate that we’re the ones who remain at the football club so it is up to us to show what we’re all about for the rest of the season. To show a lot of character and that fighting spirit and I’m sure that’ll start on Sunday at Tranmere.”
It was a summer of change before the 2012/13 campaign with a number of new faces coming through the Shephalbury training ground doors - in fact, in Smith’s last game in charge only Roberts remained from last season’s visit to Gigg Lane – that had an affect on the Boro captain, who had enjoyed a successful spell with a relatively unchanged side in the seasons previous.
“It was a big change for me personally, just because so many team mates left in the summer, but in the first six months Gary took us into the play offs and guided that successful ship and made sure that we carried on the momentum that we had in previous seasons. I thought he did a phenomenal job in doing that, we enjoyed the Tottenham FA Cup games and it was a big highlight for all of us.
“This season we started off on a tremendous run of form and took to the league very well - to go second in League One was another huge achievement – a third of the season had gone which showed it was no fluke but for one reason or another we haven’t been able to see it through and maintain that, and we have been searching for that form ever since. We have shown flashes of it in recent weeks and that character and level of performance is what we need to show in the seven games that remain this season.”
Robbo enjoyed three games in charge of the side during the transition between management regimes in 2012, winnings twice and gaining a draw in that time, and despite only being 29 he now begins his second spell in charge of the side.
“It’s very different from last time; when the manager was leaving the football club last time we were on a high. There is definitely disappointment in the dressing room and around the squad because of the lads had a huge amount of affection towards Gary and the management team, he was the manager that brought them to the football club at the end of the day, so you can see the sense of disappointment, but unfortunately that is part and parcel of football and we have to remain strong and get the very best out of ourselves and I’m sure the lads will bounce back and respond in the right fashion on Sunday.”
He continued, “As captain it is up to me to lead the dressing room and make sure that we get the very best out of ourselves. When I am in charge it’s no different, it’s all about leading by example and getting the best of your ability and that is what I’ll ask form the lads; I’ll ask them to do what they’re good at and do it well. It’s as simple as that and if as players and as a team we do that then we’ll enjoy success. There was huge disappointment after the Bury game and we’re all disappointed with our performance on Tuesday night and this has been compounded by the fact that Gary and the management team have left the club but you’re only as good as your next game and we have to make sure that we find that level of consistency in both performances and results and that is the aim for the rest of the season.”
Finally Mark took a moment to call on the Stevenage supporters to help him and his team mates during a difficult spell, saying, “The fans will play a massive part for the rest of the season; they have been superb with us so far this season.
“They’ve experienced less success than they have in previous years but they have stuck by us and it is important that we all come together as one. The last time I was in charge, I don’t think the fans will ever forget that period of time. Although there were two away games, the home game against MK Dons was an incredible atmosphere to be part of and that’s what I’d like to see from the fans. The support and the messages that I’ve got so far have touched me and we all have to show the pride in the shirt and the badge that we are wearing and that is the ultimate challenge; I hope the fans can become a part of that.”