Sheffield United captain Michael Doyle has mounted a passionate defence of manager David Weir, insisting: “We owe him a performance”.
Doyle, who will face his former club Coventry City in a Sky televised game on Sunday evening, made the claim after Tuesday evening’s 1-0 defeat at home to Hartlepool United, which saw them tumble out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the second hurdle.
More significantly, though, the defeat was United’s ninth of a turbulant season to date - and the pressure on Weir is seemingly mounting by the game.
As the Telegraph went to press, Weir was still in charge and preparing for Sunday’s clash with Coventry at Northampton’s Sixfield Stadium.
The former Scottish international insisted, after the Hartlepool game, insisted that he would not resign from the Bramall Lane hotseat, and Doyle said: “It is gut-wrenching that we haven’t won a game since the opening day of the season [against Notts County].
“We keep showing glimpses of how good we can be, but we’re not getting the results and that is what matters.
“But there is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes, and everyone is working as hard as they ever have done.
“We’re expected to win games at a football club like this; at the minute it’s not happening, and that’s down to the players.
“But what I can say is that there are a lot of winners in that dressing room, including the manager and his staff, and everyone has had enough.
“This is the time to stand up and be counted; starting on Sunday against Coventry.
“We have to give the manager a performance, and we have to give the fans a performance.
“We owe them that.”
Doyle, who made just under 300 appearances for Coventry during his eight years in sky blue, added: “I hope the manager doesn’t get sacked.
“There’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes - we’re at the training ground til 3-4pm most days since pre-season - and I hope he gets the chance to see it through.
“Obviously people aren’t happy, nor should they be, but I hope people are strong enough to give him the opportunity.
“If he gets that, I think he will be successful here.
“These are tough times, and it’s easy to blame the manager but we must all take responsibility.
“It’s horrible to be playing here at the minute, everyone’s unhappy, and it’s coming down on one man’s head when we are all responsible.”
“We had a similar situation last year with Danny [Wilson] and it’s horrible.
“I know the manager has got a lot to offer, he can get through this and when he does, the club will benefit massively.”
Doyle, who believes that United still possess the personnel to challenge for promotion to the Championship, emphasised the importance of “grinding out” an elusive victory.
“If we do that, we can get on a roll and start climbing the table,” the Irishman said.
“We do need a bit of luck, but you make your own luck in this game. We can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves.
“And we certainly can’t try and hide.
“It has been a tough run, of course, and the supporters have every right to voice their anger.
“But we now have to stick our chests out, show some character and grind some results out to get us up the table.”
n Sunday’s game is live on Sky Sports 1, with a 4pm kick off.