Shaun Wane says he knows how many fans felt last season – because he felt exactly the same.
As the Super League season formally closed last weekend, the Warriors head coach has reflected on their frustrating campaign which saw them win the World Club Challenge, reach Wembley, but miss out on a play-offs spot.
There were obvious highlights during their league campaign, including two derby triumphs and the emergence of some young players such as Tom Davies and Liam Marshall.
But far too often, fans left games feeling deflated – even after some victories.
The off-days were too frequent, the purple patches too patchy.
Owing to the weight of the WCC trophy – and the magic of Wembley – it was ultimately an historic year.
But it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable one, and no one knows that more than Wane.
“There’s no doubting it was a strong competition, but I can’t get away from the fact I’ve driven home from games and only been happy three or four times,” he said.
“That’s it. And that’s down to me, how we train, the teams we pick.
“We’ve done some very good things in attack and defence, but not consistently enough.
“Big picture, we won the World Club and got to Wembley.
“We had injuries like no one else – I think we had three games with 11 starters out. So on the surface, I could argue we’ve done alright.
“But little picture, there haven’t been many games I’ve driven home and been really happy.
“And when I’ve had individual meetings, the players have thought the same. We know we can do better.
“There wasn’t enough we can be happy with this year.”
Wane and his coaches went away to the Lake District last weekend, locking themselves away from distractions as they picked apart their campaign.
They even worked through the Grand Final on Saturday night – Wane hoping the ploy would “hurt” his staff and spark them even more to kick on to better things next season.
While the new campaign seems an age away, pre-season will begin in little more than three weeks.
“We will change – not tweak – the way we train,” he said. “We’re getting to the bottom of every detail.
“I’ll listen to ideas of my staff and senior players, and then I’ll make a decision. I want us to improve.
“I’m not deluded and thinking everything is good. I don’t like the fact we weren’t in the Grand Final, it annoyed me. And I’ll be annoyed until pre-season.”
He has already hinted he may appoint an extra assistant coach, to support him and John Winder; most head coaches have at least two assistants.
Improving concentration and skill-level seem high on his wish-list. Wane is also looking at ways to improve their goal-kicking.
And while he has no plans to bring in a specialist kicker, he is looking at expert coaches to work with the likes of George Williams, Sam Tomkins, Sam Powell, Morgan Escare and Jake Shorrocks.
Statistics from last season revealed some interesting points.
Wigan were the only team not to kick a 40-20 – which didn’t surprise Wane, as his side usually kick to keep the ball alive, rather than for touch.
But they also showed the Warriors scored more tries from attacking kicks close to the opponents’ line and – perhaps most surprisingly – only table-toppers Castleford scored more tries.
“To be honest I was shocked at that stat,” he said.
“But sometimes the stats can give you a false sense of security. Their handy as a guide, but deep down you usually know whether you’re good or not at a certain thing.
“The fact we’ve lost 40 per cent of games, that’s it; that’s not acceptable.”
The most important figure wasn’t on any stats sheet: the number of times Wane drove home satisfied.
“It will push us into a tough position,” he said. “If we had made the top-four semis, it would have papered over the cracks a bit.
“And if we’d scored at the end at Wembley, well... winning trophies looks good.
“But deep down we’ve not been consistent enough. There were too many games when certain players were 2/10 and others were 8/10.”
Wane has not ruled out strengthening his squad, but there will not be an overhaul. The major changes, it seems, will be in their preparation.
“I’ve told the players to enjoy their down time, but come back ready to work,” he added. “I expect them back in great condition. This pre-season will be different to others.”