Gary Haveron insists Carrick Rangers can’t rely on praise and complimentary back-slaps to keep them in the Danske Bank Premiership.
The newly-promoted side have demonstrated plenty of spirit and endeavour during the opening third of the season.
But despite earning plaudits for their positive approach in the top-flight, seven defeats from 12 opening league fixtures have left Haveron’s men third from bottom in the table.
It is a perilous position, even this early in the campaign, and one the Carrick boss wants improvement on in the weeks ahead.
“We are competing in games, and we are getting lots of pats on the back for being competitive. But at the end of the day you need to put points on the board,” Haveron said.
“Last Saturday we limited Glentoran to very little, but again we emerged with nothing to show for it.
“We are still that little bit too nice, and that needs to change. There are certain areas of the park where we need to show a bit more edge. Barry Johnston came into the middle last Saturday and you could see that Premiership experience.
“He took the game to Glentoran and got us up the pitch.
“We also need to be more clinical in front of goal.
“There has been nothing between us and most of our rivals this season, but scoring goals wins games.
“Linfield and Crusaders are the only two sides who have beaten us comfortably, but we have competed with everyone else. That’s a positive.
“We are naive and lack that wee bit of guile at times, and we need to learn quickly. We can’t let this run of results continue for long. It will frustrate the lives out of us.
“We need to work harder.”
Carrick travel to Windsor Park on Saturday to face Linfield, but Haveron believes it will be the games against sides at the bottom end of the table that will define Rangers’ season.
“I have always said we need to stay ahead of the teams down around us, so it is like a mini-league within the main league,” he added.
“They are the games that will define our season.
“But we don’t want anyone else to do us a favour. We need to look after our own business, and we know we can compete against the majority of teams in this division.”