GIVEN his comments about a lack of pride from his players on Tuesday night, it is a big leap to talk about them caring so much it is part of the problem.

But that was one of the conclusions Oxford United boss Karl Robinson took from his meetings with the players in the wake of Tuesday’s loss to Crewe Alexandra.

In the cold light of day, the squad spoke with the head coach on an individual basis.

Robinson felt it helped draw out some areas which have been holding the side back, ahead of a crucial game at Wigan Athletic tomorrow.

And having accused them of lacking heart, within hours he had done a U-turn.

“I’ve never had a group of players who care that much that it’s sometimes hard for them to portray their emotions in the right way,” he said.

“They care so much it’s sometimes starving their decision-making, because there’s a bit of anxiousness amongst them.

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“I don’t want them to care less, but I want them to show it in a way that fans know they want to play for the football club.

“That has to start on Saturday.”

One recurring theme from the conversations on Wednesday morning was a lack of sleep after the game.

United have several players who use technology to monitor their patterns at night, with the rest adding anecdotal evidence.

“When we sat down, everyone was saying they had only got two or three hours,” said Robinson.

“Alex Gorrin was up at all hours watching the game, rewinding it and watching it again.

“He’s on his eighth coffee just to stay awake.”

Robinson kept the squad in the changing room for longer than normal after the 2-0 defeat to the Railwaymen, which kept the club in Sky Bet League One’s bottom four.

Having asked them straight whether the lack of form was down to something the coaching staff have been doing, the U’s boss said nothing had been put forward.

There would have been times when such a question would have prompted a blazing row to get things in the open.

But even in the decade he has been managing, Robinson has seen a shift in the way players handle such situations.

That means altering the way in which they are dealt.

He said: “The generations have changed.

“What you would have seen many years ago was players internally arguing, really winding each other up.

“You don’t see that as much any more – and that’s not just here.

“Our development paths are so coach-driven and everything’s so controlled.

“You must be here at this time, everything is done for them.

“Taking responsibility is a big part of the game and they’re never asked to take responsibility within their development.

“You can’t blame the players for that, it’s the society we live in where a lot of things are handed to people at an early age.

“We want to win and we’ll win more games if we’re honest and we have a voice.”