Cameron Jerome believes Birmingham City have to stop relying on half-time harangues from manager Alex McLeish and start motivating themselves.
On numerous occasions this season, Birmingham have been guilty of failing to get out of the blocks from the first whistle and in doing so have handed their opponents an early advantage.
So that has often left McLeish with no choice but to hand his players an old-fashioned interval ear-bashing to ensure that his side are sufficiently motivated for the second-half that follows.
Last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley at St Andrew’s was a case in point. Birmingham went into the break shell-shocked, although slightly buoyed by Kevin Phillips’ equaliser, after a woeful first-half and emerged with much more energy and drive, no doubt after a few choice words from their irate manager.
Whether McLeish’s half-time tirades involve smashed tea cups and a dressing down akin to Sir Alex Ferguson’s famed hair-dryer is still unknown.
However Jerome, an England Under-21 international, believes that there shouldn’t be any call for a motivational McLeish outburst at the interval when you’re gunning for promotion.
“We’ve had a couple of Alex McLeish ear-bashings this year and they’re quite motivational. We’ve gone out in the second half and put in some very good performances,” said Jerome.
“But we should motivate ourselves and we’ve been poor at that throughout the season to be honest. Teams have come and raised their game against us and sometimes we’ve not been able to match that straight away.
“We’ve not found an answer to that until we do get a little bit of momentum going in a game and that is when we get back on top. We’d like to hit the ground running from minute one through to 90 minutes.
“The gaffer rants and raves when he needs to but he comes across as quite a calm manager anyway, he only gives constructive criticism, he will never single out a player because he takes the responsibility for the boys’ performance. He shoulders a lot of the blame but the players could do a little bit more to help out.”
Despite the club’s recent stumblings, which seem to have been triggered by the defeat at Preston North End in mid-December, Jerome admits that there have been plenty of encouraging signs on the pitches of Birmingham’s Wast Hills training complex.
Now the 22-year-old Yorkshireman wants him and his team-mates to find a way to transfer those signs on to the stage where it counts.
“In training we knock it around good, the lads train hard. Training is obviously different to a game but what you practice is what you aim to take on to the field.
“We’ve been brilliant in training but we’ve not really got it together in the game, whether that’s down to nerves, we don’t know. There’s still time though, we’re optimistic that we can still push on and get a run, this is the time when a team is going to get a run together to charge into the top two.”
Whether or not Birmingham are the team to make that charge remains to be seen but McLeish will be hoping that he won’t have to open a fresh pack of throat lozenges for the second-half of Saturday’s home fixture with Nottingham Forest.