Paul Cook admitted Wigan Athletic are worringly short on belief with less than a fortnight to go until the start of the Football League season.
Latics came from behind to beat League Two outfit Notts County 2-1 on Saturday, after a frustrating first hour when they struggled to assert their divisional dominance.
“I felt at times in the first half we were playing really well, but you could just see within the team the lack of belief,” Cook told the Wigan Post.
“I’ve only been here a very short period of time, but you feel you’re waiting for the opposition to score, and you don’t feel we’re going to score.
“You feel that’s transmitting through the players and the team, and it’s something we spoke about at half-time.
“We told them that it’s very important the players feel they’re going to win.
“I just didn’t feel our lads felt they were going to win.
“Of course it’s easy to sit here after the game and say that, because we have won.
“But you do have to remember there has been a lot of turmoil at the club over the last 12 months - for a number of reasons, no blame attached to anyone.
“The group has been a little bit down, there has been a huge turnover in players, which has to end, but we have to believe in what we’re doing.”
The game changed on the hour mark when Cook sent on five substitutes - trialist Noel Hunt along with youngsters Josh Laurent, Terell Thomas, Josh Burgess and Callum Lang.
Striker Lang immediately created the equaliser, when his right-wing cross was inadvertently diverted home by home defender Richard Duffy.
And shortly after it was Lang providing the finish at the far post after the much-travelled Hunt had raced clear down the right.
“I’m sure the travelling support will go home quite pleased with what they’ve seen - certainly with the younger lads getting on the pitch again,” enthused Cook.
“And it just highlights the importance of these young players getting their chance.
“Let’s remember we were getting beat 1-0 at the time when the kids came on.
“It wasn’t a case of putting them on when we were winning.
“The kids have come on and won us the game.
“And they showed more energy and life at times than the team that started the game.
“And that’s not me saying let’s have all the kids playing all the time now, because that’s not how football works.
“But we’ve got to keep working together as a club, get stronger and, most importantly, believe in what we’re doing.”