Mark Bowen says the AFC Wimbledon players cannot afford to dwell on relegation to League Two.
The Dons suffered their first relegation as a phoenix club and saw their five-season stint in League One come to an end last Saturday after a 4-3 home defeat to Accrington Stanley.
Despite Bowen securing draws against promotion candidates Milton Keynes and Wycombe during his seven games in charge, he was unable to pick up a victory as the club’s winless run in all competitions stretched to 28 games.
Wimbledon have several players out of contract this summer with Alex Woodyard, Anthony Hartigan, Ben Heneghan, Cheye Alexander and Nesta Guinness-Walker all yet to agree on fresh terms at Plough Lane.
Bowen made it clear that he would be interested in staying on as manager after he was only appointed until the end of this season. No announcement on his future had been made when our paper went to press.
The new season begins on July 30 due to the 2022 Qatar World Cup in the winter shutting down the domestic schedule for a number of weeks.
“They can’t dwell,” said Bowen after relegation was confirmed. “We’re in a game where everybody would give their heart and soul to be involved in professional football. Part of the game is, unless you’re playing for Liverpool or Chelsea, having more downs than ups.
“If you’re going to have a long and successful career in the game, then you have got to take those disappointments, deal with them well, and come back stronger. That is what the whole club has got to be about now. Lick your wounds and come back stronger – that’s what they have got to do.
“They will dwell on it for a while, no doubt about it – you expect them to do that. But, at the same time, I told them to try, the best way that they can, to switch off, spend time with their families and friends, and enjoy it because when you come back, you know that the expectation is going to be there next year.
“We have got to quickly get confidence, a culture in the club, and a way of playing that suits everybody, so we’re all singing off that same song sheet to come back and win football matches – that’s what gets you promotion in the end.”
Jack Rudoni won Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year after he scored 12 goals and picked up five assists this season in a disappointing League One campaign.