Cameron Jerome has admitted that Birmingham City players have to take a long, hard look at themselves.
Blues have struggled to recapture the smooth running nature of last season, when they fairly ticked along impressively and efficiently through the winter on an incredible 15-game unbeaten run.
They have reached their first major semi-final in a decade, in the Carling Cup, but the inability to recapture the form of 2009-10 has led to frustration among the rank and file.
With other clubs like Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers not thinking twice about wielding the axe, the Premier League seems to be moving into an age of less and less patience.
Alex McLeish, who recently signed a new three-year contract, is not under threat but he knows results matter more than anything.
Jerome, though, said that Blues’ players needed to improve their efforts if the club was to start climbing the division.
And they had to start turning draws into victories as, at the moment, it’s a similar trait that hurt Blues when they were relegated in 2008.
“That is the million dollar question, how we do that,” he considered. “I don’t know.
“We are drawing away from home, which is not a bad thing. But three points are vital, that’s what matters, that’s what is going to get you higher up the league.
“Last year we seemed more solid. We have conceded some bad goals this season, we’ve been a little bit sloppy.
“Last year we created more chances and caused more problems. People have found us out a little bit, maybe, I don’t know.
“We have just got to take the initiative. When you step over that white line – obviously the manager can give you certain instructions – it is up to you as a player to perform and make things happen.
“We have got players in the squad who can be match-winners and have got to start stepping up to the plate and performing.
“It will be a long old season for us otherwise.”
Jerome was part of the team that went down seven months into McLeish’s reign.
He does not see similarities, though.
“Well, I’d like to think not. But that’s what happened then. We looked like we were in a comfortable position then around about this time we started to buckle a bit and the teams round and about us picked up.
“We ended up being relegated. I’d like to think we have got a lot more quality in the dressing room than that year, a lot more experience. There were a lot of distractions off the pitch.
“Wolves was one very bad defeat. We have to be ready for the remaining games and make sure things go differently.”
That Wolves debacle is still causing heartache and headache a fortnight on. Blues were unable to atone for it when the Newcastle United game fell victim to the snowy weather.
Jerome pulled no punches: “We were second best all over the park. We didn’t get out of first gear and I think us players have got to pull our socks up and have a word with ourselves.
“We have been sucked back into a little bit of scrap now.
“It’s never easy winning away games in this league, it was just the manner we went at it. The performance wasn’t there. Nothing.
“It wasn’t Birmingham at all. I’d never want to question our application throughout the team, but we can’t make any excuses, no-one was near their best. They rolled us over.
“We have got to pick ourselves up. We have got some big game over the Christmas period and it’s important we get some wins.
“We are not beating teams in and around us. That’s the scary thing. Allowing your rivals to get points on you isn’t good. If that continues then you are going to start struggling.”
For 18 months now Jerome has led Blues attack by right.
He formed a fine understanding with Christian Benitez and was an automatic choice. His 11-goal tally meant he became alongside Mikael Forssell the only Blues player to score double figures or more in a Premier League season.
As McLeish has tried to juggle his permutations up front this season, Jerome has remained a constant and suffered because of it.
Despite his work rate and the attributes he brings to the team, Blues’ creativity and service to the front has hardly been bountiful.
Nobody is pretending Jerome is a regular, clinical finisher or in the mould of a Bobby Zamora, who McLeish wanted in the summer, as a focal point, adept at keeping the ball in.
But he got grief from the stands for a spell and, after scoring at Stoke City – his second goal in as many games – made a point to the away support by cupping his hand to his ear and putting his finger to his lip as if to say ‘‘shush’’.
Jerome was reluctant to go into detail: “In football everyone is entitled to their opinion. That’s that. I don’t really want to say much on it. As a professional you just get on with it.
“I know the job I do for the team and so does the manager. If he is happy with me and I perform in training, then he will pick me.
“I have to keep on doing what I am doing.
“I always aim to improve and better myself. I have to dig in and I’m sure when we find a little bit more consistency in the team we will start creating more chances and I’m sure the goals will start to come, not just from me but all over the place.
“It’s when that knits together. It’s not quite happened yet. We’re not too worried about that at the moment, as long as we pick up a couple more wins soon.
“It’s turning those draws into victories and finding consistency, being a bit more solid.
“I think we have also got to go for it from the start with a positive approach rather than – since I’ve been here anyway – be a little negative. That doesn’t seem to get us far.”