Dave Jones has challenged his Sheffield Wednesday strugglers to show their fighting spirit after admitting he feels “let down” by some of his players.
The Owls manager heads into today’s Championship trip to Blackpool with the relegation battlers four points adrift of safety, albeit with a game in hand.
Just one win in 16 games this season – and not a single clean sheet – has piled the pressure on Jones to stop the rot.
He is demanding a reaction today at Bloomfield Road, admitting that he is “fighting for his job” at Hillsborough.
Asked if he felt let down by the players, Jones said: “Yes, I do, so do our coaches, and some of the players should feel let down, the ones that are trying and doing it.
“We all feel let down. Everybody in the football club – the chairman definitely feels let down.
“There’s no point hiding the facts and trying to gloss over it, everybody within the club – whether manager, coach, players – will feel let down.
“That is because they (the team) are not doing what we see in glimpses, or what we do see on a consistent basis (in training).
“The one thing is I believe in my players, I have to believe in my players.
“We know what we have to do. One thing I can assure the fans of is everybody in this football club knows what we have to do.
“There’s no hiding place; they have got to fight and they have got to scrap. Not just scrapping for the fans, but the club, and, more importantly, they are scrapping for themselves. That includes me.
“Only one set of people got us into this situation, which is us; only one set of people can get us out of this situation, which is us.”
Jones believes his Owls players have to take their share of the blame for Wednesday’s torrid start to the season.
Last weekend, he axed goalkeeper Chris Kirkland and captain Reda Johnson in an attempt to cure his side’s defensive ailments.
“One or two players need to wake up and smell the coffee, not blame others and look at others,” he said.
“Look at yourself first and ask, ‘Why am I not performing?’
“Don’t look at others, don’t blame anybody else; we all must look at ourselves individually first.
“Once they start to play for themselves, then they play for everybody else. Not the other way round. Don’t blame anybody, it’s us.
“I have known where I stood from day one. Win football matches. That’s what it’s down to.
“Everybody is not happy with the form, I am not happy.
“I don’t like people saying to me I don’t care. Of course I care, it’s my livelihood, remember. It’s not a hobby.
“Every day I walk into the football club and I fight for my job. As soon as things don’t seem to go well, what’s the first response? The first question you will ask me is, ‘are you fighting for your job?’
“I know every day I walk into this football club, win, lose or draw, that I am fighting for my job. It’s all about results at the end of the day.
“I don’t have to be told about winning just once in 15 games, not keeping a clean sheet, they are all the things that we are pounding away with the players to try and get it right. They have to get it right.
“Once they cross the white line, they then have to go and perform. I put the team out so I am part of that team. I rely on the players to do their job.
“I have never laid down and just given up and I don’t expect the players to do that.
“They have got to keep going, keep fighting.”
Wednesday went from “sublime to ridiculous” with a 5-2 win over Reading then poor displays in defeats to Derby County and Huddersfield Town.
But Jones said it would be just a knee-jerk reaction to sack the manager and expect results to suddenly change.
“I do the best with what I have, with the people I have,” he said. “I give 100 per cent, day-in, day-out. Do I think it will be (my last game against Blackpool)? No, I hope not.
“Do other people think it could be? Probably but I can’t change people’s minds.
“Sometimes you hit rock bottom and there’s only one way you come out as far as I am concerned, you come out fighting.
“Now I want to see what fight my players have got. Simple as that. I have backed them, and will back them; now it’s time they back everybody that’s here.”