Kilmarnock captain Manuel Pascali has admitted that, without a marked improvement in form, the Ayrshire club can expect to be relegated.
Allan Johnston’s men have suffered more defeats (ten) than any other Premiership club and are currently in 11th place, 12 points clear of Hearts.
However, after being comprehensively outplayed by Motherwell on Saturday, Pasacali believes that automatic relegation is now a distinct possibility.
“After 14 games gone, we are in this position because we deserve to be there,” said the 32-year-old.” It’s up to us.
“You can see that we have good players but it’s more important now to be a good team. It looks to me as though our heads go down every time we concede the opening goal. We have to take that and then go on and win matches if we are to change our season.
“But we need to do it now because time will fly. In five or six matches Hearts could be right behind us.
“Seriously, it’s time for us to work our socks off and prove that we are good enough to play in the Premiership.”
Motherwell squandered a string of openings before John Sutton, with a free header from inside the six-yard box, opened the scoring and Henri Anier killed the game with a clinical finish in the closing stages.
The dwindling band of supporters who are not boycotting games in protest at chairman Michael Johnston’s continued involvement with their club jeered the players from the field but Pascali made a plea for unity.
“We have to stick together,” he said. “I know the fans are not happy at the moment and that a few things are happening off the pitch but they need to stay close to us. We are to blame for our poor results but, in 2010, we played Falkirk here on the final day of the season needing a draw to stay up – today, the atmosphere at the ground was even worse than it was then.
“So we need to fight together and, if we can do that, I’m sure we will be fine. We need positivity and, at the moment, there is too much negativity surrounding the club.
“I don’t want another last-day decider or a play-off. I was happy at the end that day but the tension was too much. We have to show that we can stay in this league.
“Right now we are second-bottom but if Hearts had not suffered the points deduction they would be ahead of us.
“We have to play every game like it is a cup final. That is what Hearts do – they play with everything they have. If we don’t do the same then our season will be doomed.”
The Italian was also critical of what he regarded as his team-mates’ resigned attitude to defeat. “We are too nice,” he said. “I’m not saying we have to start losing the plot but if you are losing a game you have to show passion and that you care about what you are doing.
“Today, when we lost the first and the second goals, it looked to me as if it was like: ‘Okay, we’ve lost again’ and I don’t even want to think about that attitude.
“If we don’t start to give more then – come the end of the season – we’ll be in the same position or even worse. Now is the time to be men and show some character.”
There were a lot of positives for Motherwell manager Stuart McCall but the standout was the performance of teenager Craig Moore, who was making his first start for the club.
Moore, 19, could have had a hat-trick in the first quarter, shooting just over after robbing Killie centre back Mark O’Hara and then slicing a volley wide from 12 yards. His best chance came when Paul Lawson’s ball played him clean through but Moore shot just wide.
Despite those missed chances, McCall said: “I thought that was probably as good a debut [as I have seen] without scoring a goal. He was terrific. He’s a strong, little hard boy. He is just infectious and obviously Henri has been away for a couple of international games with Estonia.
“We had to say to him at half-time don’t let that [missing chances] affect you, keep getting into the positions. He was a great foil with Sutty. It would have been nice for him to score but he was a real key part of our performance.
“He was first team on the team sheet because not only has he done it when he has come on as sub, he has done it for the under-20s and in training he has been terrific. He merited his chance and hopefully he will kick on from there.”