Doncaster Rovers players have been warned they cannot ignore the threat of being dragged into a relegation scrap.
Last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Barnsley means Rovers have 36 points this season, just three points better off than Shrewsbury Town, who occupy the final relegation place.
Since Rovers lost to Premier League side Stoke City in the FA Cup on January 9, they have failed to win a single game in League One.
Successive draws against Gillingham and Fleetwood Town have been followed by defeats to Port Vale, Walsall, Sheffield United and Barnsley.
The feel-good factor derived from Darren Ferguson’s arrival, which saw a marked improvement in results, now seems a distant memory.
Ahead of tomorrow’s visit from in-form Millwall, Ferguson has spoken to his players about trying to halt their alarming form in 2016, and the dangers of ignoring their declining league position.
“I don’t think you should be remiss enough to ignore it,” said Ferguson. “I think the situation is clear enough for you to say we are.
“If you look at the league table there’s not much in it. Obviously I feel confident that won’t be the case but I’m not going to ignore it.
“It’s been touched upon to the players that we can’t ignore it but I know we’ve just got to take care of ourselves.
“We’ve had good chats with them individually this week and also together, that we’re all saying the same thing that we just need to get that one result to kick us on again.”
Ferguson believes the sudden change in fortune at Doncaster shows how fragile football can be, with talk of a potential play-off challenge replaced with relegation talk.
“You look at it and we’ve gone in the space of a month from really flying and the positivity around the place being fantastic, players buzzing, couldn’t wait for the next game, didn’t think we could get beat, to almost the exact opposite,” he said.
“It just shows in football how things are so fragile and can be changed so quickly. In the same token it can change so quickly the other way.
“There are so many examples of that and I suppose Barnsley would be the most obvious example of that, seven or eight defeats and then seven or eight wins.”