Keith Millen spoke of his “anger” at Carlisle United’s struggles and said players can expect a more ruthless environment at Brunton Park from now on.

The manager watched his side lose 2-0 at home to Harrogate Town as relegation fears increased.

Millen said it was no longer the time to protect players by talking about the good aspects of their performance.

He said the “mentality” of the squad must change if second-bottom United are to fight their way out of trouble in League Two.

“I’m not going to sit here and talk about whatever possession we had, how many crosses, how many opportunities, or anything like that,” he said.

“I think [Harrogate] had three attempts on goal and they punished us twice. But that’s not an answer and we have to change. I have to change it.

“I always protect the players, I always will, but we have to change the mentality. That’s what it is – it’s a mentality, and we cannot continue to have people telling me that we’re playing better football. When you’re losing football matches that’s not acceptable.

“I have to change the mentality of the group before Saturday. We need to change the momentum we’re in.

“I’m not going to hide behind the way we’re playing. It doesn’t matter how you play, you have to have the mentality where you’re going to win your next football match.

“At the moment I’m giving them the opportunity to tell us that they’re doing this and that, but that has to stop now.

“They have to start winning as well as doing the other things well. On Thursday it will be a different environment around the place, because losing like this has to hurt.

“To dominate the game like we did, and then to lose, that’s more of a mindset than it is the tactics or the style we’re playing.”

United missed good chances against Simon Weaver’s side but went down to goals from George Thomson and Alex Pattison.

It equalled a club record of five consecutive home league games without scoring – and extended their winless league run to 12 games, the longest such run in the EFL.

Millen said it is time for a “quiet” dressing room to show they can “fight”.

“I can only act and behave how I feel,” he said, asked how he can change the mindset of the team.

“They know me by now, that I will do everything I can for them, and if I need to protect them I will, and if I need to put an arm around them I will.

“If I feel like I want to fight them I will. At the moment I feel like I want to fight them. And I want them to fight with me on Saturday.

“I can’t go in there after this game and say, ‘Listen lads, I’m gutted for you ‘cos you deserved more’ – that’s just not right.

“You have to go with your emotions and how you feel. That’s what I want to try and get out of them for the next few games.

“You can’t feel sorry for yourselves. I’ve said, ‘If you feel sorry for yourselves, don’t come in Thursday’. I just want people to come in on Thursday and Friday and try and put it right.”

Brad Young hit the post and missed a further good chance as United fell short again at Brunton Park.

“I can’t continue saying that we’re doing things and that we have an identity, because the identity we’ve got is that we’re losing football matches,” Millen added.

“That’s not an identity I want, and I need to do whatever I need to do to change it. If it means getting angry with them, I will.

“That’s the way I feel, that’s the way the fans feel, and I’m sure the players feel it as well. They are hurting now because they’ve tried, but that isn’t enough.”