It promises to be a winter of discontent for Sheffield Wednesday.
For all their efforts so far, they have put 11 measly points on the board, sit joint bottom of the second tier of English football and have won just once this term.
There are 30 matches left for Wednesday to save their season. Sounds a lot. However, the reality is the team will pretty much have to produce promotion-winning form in the second half of the 2013/14 campaign to retain their Championship status.
As Wednesday slipped to their third league defeat in a row, the fans, for the second match running, vented their frustration at manager Dave Jones. There were chants of “Jones out” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” following Dan Gosling’s 72nd-minute strike and last night they got their wish as Jones was given the boot.
But stand-in captain Roger Johnson, speaking before Jones’ departure, is adamant the players have to shoulder the responsbility for their poor results.
The centre-back said: “If the chairman is to sack him on Monday or whenever, it is a joke. It shouldn’t happen. It is not him or the staff. They work us all hard throughout the week. It is the players. It is nobody but the players.
“I had it last year at Wolves. I had three managers there. We had a great team and we still got relegated.”
After two abject displays, against Derby County and Huddersfield Town, Jones fared better in the first half at Bloomfield Road. They were bright and positive and really imposed their game-plan on Blackpool.”
But they gave themselves a mountain to climb after conceding a sloppy, avoidable goal in the sixth minute. Blackpool got joy all afternoon from corners and Ricardo Fuller shrugged off the attentions of Connor Wickham to touch in Tom Ince’s low delivery at the near post.
Nonetheless, the visitors should have levelled before the interval. Jacques Maghoma fed Wickham and he pulled the ball back for the unmarked Jeremy Helan, who side-footed wide. Wickham was then foiled by Matt Gilks while Miguel Llera and Jose Semedo went close with headers.
Wednesday, though, were certainly second best after the break and Gosling’s close-range strike condemned the Owls to another away defeat.
Johnson accused the players of throwing in the towel after Blackpool doubled their advantage.
“I think we fought back after going a goal down early on,” he said. “It [the opener] was an individual error. We worked on it in training and people switch off. That has killed us.
“But I thought after that we bounced back and we should have come in at half-time least 1-1 if not 2-1 up.
“I thought we started all right in the second half. They had a spell and we just melted. We didn’t bounce back. It felt like we just gave up. It was not good enough.
“The lads gave up and the second goal was another mistake. People are not doing their jobs.
“It is tough to say people are giving up. It is so frustrating. There are 11 lads out there and you can only do your bit. I’m not bigging myself up saying I’m the best out of the lot of us by a long shot. It just felt like it all went flat out there and we didn’t have another push in us which is disappointing.”
You have to go back to April for the last time the Owls triumphed on their travels and the club have not recorded a shut out since the final day of last season.
“It is disgraceful that we haven’t kept a clean sheet,” said Johnson. “Normally you can scrap out a 0-0 but we seem to be shipping in goals and not scoring many. I know we got five against Reading at home but in the last three games we have scored one goal which was Connor’s free kick. It is just not good enough.
“Everybody has got to hold their hands up. Yeah, it [defensive record] comes down to the back four. But the build up to goals are people not doing their jobs properly. It goes for everybody from the forwards to midfielders to defenders and goalkeepers. If people aren’t doing their individual jobs, you’ve got no chance.”
The table makes grim reading for Wednesday ahead of their home double-header with promotion hopefuls Leicester City and Nottingham Forest this week. The Owls are six points shy of safety, although they do have a game in hand on their rivals.
Asked if he is worried by the gap that is opening up at the bottom, Johnson replied: “It is massively concerning.
“We have dug ourselves a hole and we have got to get out of it. End of.
“By experience, you think to yourself you’ve got loads of games to go but them games go and you are still there. You end up running out of games.
“The next matches are massive but they are all big games. Yeovil went and beat Watford on Saturday and Doncaster beat QPR which shows everybody can beat everyone.
“Everyone expected us to get battered against Reading but we beat them 5-2. At Brighton, everyone expected us to get battered. We should have won the game. This league is very up and down. It is on the day.”