Inverness manager Terry Butcher has urged his players to make him eat his words after his criticism of their late collapse against Hibernian.
Caley Thistle dominated for an hour against Hibs on Sunday but suffered their second successive home defeat when a late Leigh Griffiths goal sealed a 3-2 win for the visitors.
The defeat saw second-bottom Hibs move five points behind Inverness in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and added to Butcher’s frustration over a season ruined by injuries, missed chances and the concession of soft goals.
Butcher hit out at his players over a “crazy 26 minutes” and wants them to put that right at McDiarmid Park today against St Johnstone, the team that inflicted their previous home loss.
“We are making chances and looking hungry but we have to stop that sloppiness and giving opponents easy goals,” Butcher said.
“That sounds simple but what is required is concentration, work, spirit, togetherness and desire. You can label these things but you can’t physically give them to players. It’s in the players’ minds.
“What they have to do is ram my words down my throat and say ‘I can do this’. If they can do that I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say well done. I know if a manager of mine had said things like that to me, and they did because I have had a lot more criticism than I give to my players, I wanted to ram it right down his throat.
“That included people like Bobby Robson and Bobby Ferguson at Ipswich. I wanted to make them eat their words and be proud of me, that was my aim as a player, that gave me more drive than anything else, and that’s what I’m looking for from my players this weekend.”
Butcher’s men face a St Johnstone side who came off worst out of the top six teams when the post-split fixtures were revealed earlier this week.
Saints will play just two of the last five matches at home, while being handed three away meetings in a row. The Perth side host Dundee United, before travelling to Motherwell, Celtic and Hearts, and bring the campaign to a close with the visit of Rangers at McDiarmid Park.
Manager Steve Lomas is, however, still a fan of the split. He said: “It’s disappointing for the fans. Three away journeys on the bounce is hard.
“But I think the split brings more good to Scottish football than it does bad. I’m a fan of the concept.
“We’ve got the raw end of the stick but you can’t please everybody.”
Lomas’ side recently defeated Inverness 1-0 but the Northern Irishman says that match counts for nothing.
He added: “This is a totally new game. They played a different system against Hibs and they were very impressive. We are just trying to focus on ourselves.
“We know what Inverness bring to the party and we know that if we don’t put a decent performance in, we will get turned over.
“It’s as simple as that.”