Ben Chenery believes last weekend’s defeat to bottom-of-the-table Cheshunt is further evidence that his Bury Town side are being held back by a ‘Suffolk mentality’.
The Bury chief had previously insisted his team could still secure themselves a Bostik League North Division play-off spot, but the 2-1 loss at Ram Meadow has left the Blues 10 points adrift of the top six, having played more games than the majority of the teams around them.
And he did not hold back in his assessment of the performance — the type of which he has seen many times before from sides in this area.
“I have been around football long enough to know that when it gets to the nitty gritty, you find out what you have got in your dressing room,” he said.
“When the going does get difficult and tough, you then see which players are going to stand up to it, which ones will stand above the parapet and be shot at.
“It is nothing about technical ability, it is about grit and determination.
“I have seen it before — it is a Suffolk mentality. It is inbred in Suffolk players. I was lucky enough to get an apprenticeship at Luton aged 16, a Suffolk boy wet behind the ears.
“The two years I had away from Suffolk made me as a human being. To live in and around London, it amazed me and opened my eyes up.
“We have a massive problem in Suffolk. There are some big football clubs and players are fortunate enough to go from club to club because there is not a massive pool of good players.
“But when you come up against wily old London clubs, Suffolk clubs will always come undone because they do not have the grit and determination.”
Asked how this mind-set could be altered going forward, Chenery continued: “It is tough because a lot of the players’ lives are very privileged, they have had very nice upbringings.
“That is no fault of their own, but they have not seen the other side of the coin, which I have.
“The London boys see it and that is the difference. We are playing in a London league and it is not easy.
“You can put all the Suffolk clubs in the same bracket — when the pitches are nice we will get the ball down and play some lovely football, but that is not what it is all about.
“This is the business end of the season on difficult pitches and when the going gets tough you have to roll up the sleeves and have an arrogance as a player.
“We did not have that (against Cheshunt) and it is going to happen again and again.
“That is not about having the money, it is about having the players that have experienced a little bit more than others.”
Focus now switches to tomorrow and a tough-looking trip to second-placed Bowers & Pitsea (3pm). The Essex side boast the joint second-best home record in the division and with that in mind, Chenery has urged his team to show big improvements.
“We have to control the controllable and that is our performance,” said Chenery.
“If we turn up feeling sorry for ourselves and do not roll our sleeves up we will get beaten — no question about it because they are a good team at home.
“If we go there and demand of each other and are brave enough to look at our weaknesses and insecurities then that is okay because you can build from that.
“It will be a big ask for us but we are a positive bunch. We will dust them down for training and now we have 15 massive games.”
After the trip to Bowers, Bury will make a swift return to action on Tuesday night at home against Witham Town for what is a rearranged fixture (7.45pm).
And as far as Chenery is concerned, the upcoming double header is the start of a process in which the players are playing for their Ram Meadow futures.
“I am a very loyal manager,” he added. “I do not like chopping and changing a lot, but there comes a point where you have to step back and ask if they are good enough.
“They are playing for their futures right now.
“Where do they go after Bury Town? You are not going to go upwards, it is sideways or below.”
Midfielder Noel Aitkens could return after sitting out the Cheshunt game with an ankle injury, while Ollie Dunlop may also come into contention after being an unused substitute during that encounter.
The striker, who joined Bury from neighbouring AFC Sudbury just before Christmas, is yet to feature for the club because of a knee injury.