FOLLOWING the disappointing end to Warrington Wolves’ season, chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick sat down with Guardian sports reporter Matt Turner to dissect what went wrong...

MT: If we’d have sat here in January and I’d have offered you the Challenge Cup but fourth place in Super League and out in the first round of the play-offs, what would you have said?

KF: I’d have said that would be really disappointing.

Looking at the cup and the manner in which we won it and the teams we beat on the way was an unbelievable story.

However, looking at the season as a whole, it’s very disappointing.

MT: Has it hit home in a way how special a group needs to be to win both trophies?

KF: I think emotionally, Wembley took a lot out of us but if you look at our form prior to then, it dropped.

If you compare our average points scored in the first 15 games to the last 15 games, I think we dropped by around 50 per cent. We had a lack of creativity.

I don’t think our defence was a major problem, it was just our ability to unlock the opposition’s defence.

That’s something we need to look at next year and it’s something that will be addressed by the coaching staff.

We have Gareth Widdop coming in – he and Blake Austin will arguably be the best half-back pairing in world rugby league.

I’m sure they are going to ask a lot more questions because ultimately, the way we played at the back end of the season was not good enough.

Warrington Guardian:

The Wire ended the season with silverware after lifting the Challenge Cup. Picture by Mike Boden

MT: Form just fell off a cliff around the summer time. Do you think there was a bit of a mental clock-off?

KF: Not for the prolonged period in which we dropped off, but certainly in games before the semi final and final.

Human nature will have taken over – players won’t have wanted to get injured or suspended for those big games.

For the other games, we can’t use that as an excuse. We’ve got a relatively decent and big squad.

MT: Taking the Challenge Cup out of it and just focusing on Super League, I asked Steve whether he thought the Super League season had been a failure and he said no. Do you and the board agree with him?

KF: I disagree. I think it has been a failure.

How is finishing fourth and crashing out in the first round of the play-offs not a failure?

Steve has got us to three finals and has won us one of them. He has done an incredible job but ultimately, this Super League season is a failure.

Warrington Guardian:

The Wire were knocked out in the first round of the Super League play-offs by Castleford Tigers. Picture by Mike Boden

MT: Will there have to be a fair bit of soul-searching over the autumn and winter?

KF: As soon as the final hooter went against Castleford, focus turned straight away to next year.

I don’t think we can afford to soul-search. We have to be proactive and pragmatic in looking forward to 2020.

We’re still in the market for a front rower as we need a bit of firepower up front. We’ve got a quota spot available so we’re looking in that department.

MT: On the style of play, a lot of fans have called it boring and one-dimensional. If you were a paying punter, would you have enjoyed watching them play?

KF: We were good at times but we have also been poor and it’s not been pretty to watch for sure.

Sometimes that conservative style can win you big games, but it’s picking when you play like that.

We certainly have to look at what we’re doing with the ball. We need to ask more questions of the defence.

If we play like we did for a lot of last season, you get what you deserve and we did. Through playing poorly, we crashed out.

If we play in that manner again, the same will happen again.

Next season, we’ll have a spine of Stef Ratchford, Blake Austin, Gareth Widdop and Daryl Clark – that’s a fantastic spine to have.

Warrington Guardian:

Gareth Widdop will join The Wire from next season. Picture by Mike Boden

MT: Is there anything you look back on and think “we could have done this differently?” The situation around Kevin Brown for instance?

KF: On Kevin Brown, I feel I should clear a few things up.

The reason we didn’t bring anybody in to replace Kev initially is that we wanted to give Declan Patton an opportunity.

Kev’s return to play date was relatively accelerated – the medical team were telling us he was way ahead of schedule.

When he got almost fit, he would break down again and would be off his feet for three or four weeks. Deadline was coming up and we felt we couldn’t go into the back end of the season with only two half-backs.

We couldn’t take a risk on Kevin. He had a really small hole in his Achilles and when he got up to top speed, it would open up and start leaking fluid.

We didn’t know if he was going to be fit for the back end so to remove that question and doubt, we decided to bring Matty Smith in.

Warrington Guardian:

Matty Smith was signed on loan from Catalans Dragons in August. Picture by Mike Boden

As things turned out, Kevin did come back and played two or three games for Leigh.

It’s probably fair to say it would have taken him three or four games to get up to speed and at the business end of the season, we thought it was the right thing to do to remove that doubt and bring a player in to cover.

It also coincided with Blake getting injured, so we did need to bring somebody in.

Riley Dean did okay but he probably wasn’t ready for that amount of game time. He will be better for that next season.

Would we have done things differently? Probably not.

MT: There are sections of the fan base who think Steve should go. What do you say to them?

KF: I think that’s harsh, but that’s the environment we live in these days.

Supporters are entitled to their opinion, but if you look at his record, he has got us to three finals in two years and has won one of them as raging underdogs. It is some achievement.

With that in mind, I disagree with that minority.

MT: Can you say with absolute certainty then that Steve will be in charge next season.

KF: Yes. Definitely.

Warrington Guardian:

Steve Price will be in charge of Warrington Wolves next season. Picture by Mike Boden

MT: It’s obviously a time where everyone self-analyses. Is that the same for you? Do you have to look at yourself and your role?

KF: Of course – I would do the same if we were sat here having won the treble. You always look at what you can do better.

I had a debrief with Steve on the Monday after the Castleford game. What went on is private but in any successful business, you have to reflect on what you can do better.

Are there things I could improve upon in my role? Absolutely there are. We have to strive for that continual improvement throughout the club, in every department.

MT: You’ve brought five new recruits in already for next year. Have you got a number in mind in terms of how many more you think you need?

KF: Salary cap will determine and dictate that, and a lot will depend on the player that comes in next.

That will determine whether we bring in either one or two more. We certainly need at least one more to give us firepower up front.

We’re undecided yet as to whether we leave enough salary cap space for two players or put all our eggs in one basket and bring in a higher-level player to fill that void up front.

MT: Does that come from here or Australia?

KF: The player market in Super League is quite difficult. Your better players don’t come out of contract – certainly not in October or November.

It will probably be an overseas signing as we do have a quota spot available. The NRL market tends to be more fluid with the salary cap over there and the bigger pool of talent.