Sheffield Wednesday great Mel Sterland insists the Owls players must take responsibility for their slide down the Championship table.
Following a promising start to the campaign, Stuart Gray’s troops have slipped to 14th in the standings after a run of just two victories from their last 14 outings. It is a worrying loss of form, prompting some Wednesday fans to question Gray’s position.
While Sterland understands the supporters frustration, he is adamant Gray should not shoulder all the blame for the Owls’ poor results, claiming the players need to step up their games.
He told The Star: “Stuart is a great coach. He came in under Dave Jones and has done ever so well. They are a lot fitter, more organised and Stuart’s got the team wanting to play for each other, which is what you want as a manager.
“Whatever level of football you work at, managers have got to be ready to take criticism when the team is not getting results. Stuart has been in the game a long time and will understand that.
“Wednesday have got to stick with Stuart. He will get it right.
“I’m sure Stuart will be working hard with his coaching staff to rectify things on the training ground.
“Stuart picks the team but there is only so much you can do as a manager. It is down to the players to take responsibility and go out there and perform.”
Despite their sticky patch, Sterland remains confident Wednesday can finish in the top 10.
“I would like to say the team can challenge for the play-offs but that’s not going to happen unless they go on a fantastic run,” he admitted. “Anything can happen in football so hopefully they will have a great second half to the season.
“It would be superb if the team could finish in the top 10. That would be great progress.”
The Owls face the bottom two clubs before the end of the year. They entertain Blackpool, who have yet to win on their travels this season, on Boxing Day before heading to Wigan Athletic a week today.
After back-to-back league defeats, Sterland thinks it is vital they rediscover a winning formula over the festive period.
“The next two matches are massively important,” he said. “Things can quickly snowball if you lose three or four games in a row. You get into silly habits and affects you mentally. It starts to destroy your head and it’s very hard to get out of a bad run.
“If we can six points against Blackpool and Wigan, that would get us back on track and push the team up the table.
“But Blackpool and Wigan will be fighting for their lives. They will want to win so they will be difficult games.”