Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton admits some of his players should be starring in a team competing for promotion as he accepted his own play-off dreams are now unlikely.
Barton was left with the realisation that this Town crop are not ready to make the top six as they lost 1-0 to Scunthorpe United.
Ash Eastham’s 74th minute own goal now leaves them 10th in the table, nine points adrift of Peterborough United.
It also continued Town’s record of failing to gain a point after conceding first this season – despite being able to call upon 16-goal Paddy Madden as well as Ched Evans (12), Ash Hunter and Wes Burns (both seven).
“I think I know what it is but I cannot say it because it is not past the watershed,” Barton said when asked about the reason for that.
“We played a team who have not had a shot on target and you lose the game.
“We play Wimbledon (in the FA Cup); they have four shots at goal and score three.
“We played them the other night and I think Cairnsy (Alex Cairns) had one shot from distance.
“But you are going to play against better sides, who are going to dominate possession and are going to test your goal.
“I spoke to the lads before and said ‘Look, I back you all as much as I can. But at some point there is just going to be a line in the sand where enough will be enough.’
“Some of them are fortunate that we do not have the money that the teams in the divisions above have because they probably would not get the opportunities that they are getting.
“It is frustrating and it must be frustrating for some of the players.
“We have got some good players who could well turn around and say ‘I should be playing in a side challenging for promotion’.
“Your team as a team is only as strong as your weakest link; unfortunately for us at the minute that is why we are 10th in the division.”
Barton has now challenged his players to take accountability as they aim to bounce back against Charlton Athletic next weekend.
Saturday’s defeat came against a Scunthorpe side Town had previously beaten 5-0 – and on the back of an impressive win at AFC Wimbledon in midweek.
Barton said: “All the good stuff of Tuesday night, we don’t execute.
“It is enough to drive you insane as a manager.
“Also we have to be patient; we took over a group that was fighting relegation for the majority of the last season.
“I have that impatient ambition and I want to build a side here capable of getting out of this division or challenging at the top end of the division.
“I also have to accept that is not going to be straightforward and we have to change a lot of the psychology of the group.
“We have a good honest bunch in there but we cannot lose that game.
“Tuesday night, they were excellent. I gave them lots of praise for it.
“On Saturday, in spells, they did some good stuff but we have got to start dominating games.
“Yes, they (Scunthorpe) are on a good run under Stuart McCall, a new manager, but we have to put them away if we are serious about getting in the play-off picture.
“I think on Saturday, for me, it is probably the realisation that we are not at that level yet.
“We are not ready to get into the play-offs and get promoted into the division above.
“No matter how much we want it or desire it we just have to learn those lessons quickly and the players that can or are capable of doing that will survive here.
“There are others that just have to go, that is the reality of it as brutal as that is.
“We have some boys who are capable of it, some that definitely have the potential to play in the division above.
“As a team, we have to separate the wheat from the chaff.”