RYAN ASTLES insists Chester’s fans should be criticising the players, ‘not the manager’ as he leapt to the defence of Jon McCarthy.

The Blues’ centre-back, who picked up man-of-the-match in Monday’s

2-0 defeat at the hands of Macclesfield Town, feels criticism of under-pressure boss McCarthy at full-time was ‘unfair’ and believes the Blues’ players should be taking the blame for their dismal home record of 14 winless matches.

“It’s a massive setback because that result on Saturday doesn’t look good now,” the 23-year-old said. “If you put two results together, or if we’d ground out a couple of draws, we’d move up the table, but we’ve ended up with a frustrating defeat and as players, fans, coaching staff, the manager, we’re all frustrated in there. It wasn’t good enough from everyone.

“The fans should boo us, not the manager. He puts a team out and we play. It’s us who can affect it out there, he puts in all the hard work Monday to Friday, Saturday morning, all we have to do is put 90 minutes in for him on a Saturday afternoon, but it feels like we haven’t done that for him this season at all.

“It’s unfair he’s getting booed and we’re getting clapped off, if anything it should be us getting booed off.

“We’ve put halves together but we’re not doing it over 90 minutes. It will click, we will fire and beat someone four or five, but we know we need that sooner rather than later.

“The manager puts his trust in us and we’ve not done that for him.”

Astles accepted it was the sort of game where ‘nothing went right’ for Chester, as goals from Mitch Hancox and Kieran Kennedy secured an easy victory for John Askey’s side.

“It was frustrating all over, we didn’t start well again and in fact we didn’t play well all game,” he added.

“It was one of those days where nothing clicked, nothing happened and it was just a bad day for us all round.

“I’m not sure why we’re making a slow start. It’s the third game running where we’ve had a slow start, the past two games at least we came out and had a go second-half.

“But we were a bit leggy here, but that’s not an excuse, it was just a poor performance.

Asked if Macclesfield were handed an advantage by having an extra 24 hours recovery time prior to the fixture, Astles replied: “Possibly that comes into it, we had a long trip as well (back from Aldershot).

“That can happen but we’re not here to make excuses. It was the sort of day where nothing went right for us.”