Luke Leahy admits his future at Bristol Rovers remains undecided, but he is confident the club will bounce back from relegation next season.
The Gas lost their place in League One with a whimper, losing their last five games and failing to score in that run to finish bottom of the table, 10 points from the dotted line and five points adrift of 23rd-placed Swindon Town.
Focus has now turned to a rebuild at the Mem as Joey Barton prepares for life in League Two, and the manager wants out-of-contract club captain Leahy to be part of his new-look side, but weeks of negotiations are yet to result in a deal.
Leahy faced questions over his future and Rovers’ relegation after Sunday’s season-ending defeat at Blackpool.
Luke, thank you for talking to us. It’s been a horrible season. How are you and the players feeling now it’s all over?
Down to be fair. I know we’ve known for a couple of weeks that we’ve been relegated, but today it’s sort of hit that the season’s over, there’s no more games and it’s a season of relegation.
We’ve just got to put it behind us now and look forward.
Four teams do get relegated and we know that at the start of the season. Does it frustrate you after beating Doncaster that you went down with a bit of a whimper?
Doncaster, Shrewsbury, Accy at home, some good results but we never really built on them after them wins.
We didn’t win two in a row this season I don’t think, and when you do that it’s always going to be a tough year.
How have you managed to keep your heads up when there haven’t been the fans to get behind you through the tough times in particular?
If I’m brutally honest, it’s a good thing that fans haven’t been at the Mem this year if that’s what we’re going to put on show.
It’s been a tough year for everyone outside of football, but we’re sort of their shining light. On a Saturday or Tuesday they want to watch us give everything for the quarters and unfortunately we’ve come up very short.
Maybe with a packed Mem from the start of the season, we wouldn’t be in this situation standing here today.
I remember I spoke to you after the first game of the season at Sunderland and it was all optimistic. Is it possible to put your finger on what went wrong, from having three different managers in charge to the lack of goals? The fact you’re top scorer this season, does that tell a story?
I think you’ve just said everything there that’s been the problem. We haven’t scored in five games since Northampton away, which was myself.
It’s been a tough season for everyone and one that we won’t look back on with fond memories.
It’s tough to put into words because we’ve known for a few weeks, but standing here today it’s hit and there’s no more games.
We’ve got to have a good off-season and come back stronger next year.
Is it any consolation at all that you, personally, have had a very good season?
I will look back in years to come and think individually I had a good season. Ten goals is probably the highest I’ll get but I’d take five of those goals away and add five points and I think we’d be alright.
But it’s a team game and collectively we’ve all come up short.
Rovers fans will want to know if you’re going to be here next season. I don’t want to put you on the spot but what’s the future for Luke Leahy?
I’m not too sure yet. I’m still speaking with everyone upstairs, so we’ll soon see.
OK, well we’ll wait on that. Whatever team is put out next season, hopefully in front of a crowd, can you ensure the Rovers fans that it will be better?
Yeah, definitely. With this coaching staff and management team I don’t think they will want anything short of leaving everything on the pitch and I’m sure the Gasheads will see that early on and appreciate it and hopefully have a team that gets promoted next year.
How different is League Two to League One? It’s going to be a real scrap to get out of it.
It’s a very tough league with tough pitches to go to and we’ve got to be men and turn up and give everything because it’s an unforgiving league.
There’s some good teams in there and some good teams that will come up from the National League, as well, so it will be a competitive season.
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And for the 8,000 Gasheads who will be turning up on a regular basis next season, you’ll be doing it for them as well?
Yeah, definitely. This management team won’t want anything less than leaving everything out on the pitch and giving 100 per cent. If the Gasheads see that early on, they’ll get right behind us.