Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill has pleaded with fans to show their support after criticism was levelled at the players following his side’s 2-1 defeat at Hull City.
The Potters took an early lead at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday through Sam Vokes but two second half goals from Jarrod Bowen completed the turnaround which leaves Stoke still second bottom of the league.
Around 1,000 Stoke fans made the trip to Yorkshire to watch their team in action and after another defeat was sealed some supporters turned their anger towards the players by chanting “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”.
O’Neill told the Stoke Sentinel that he heard the chants and has urged fans to get behind the team as they face a crucial game against fellow strugglers Luton Town on Tuesday.
The Irishman said: “Tuesday is a massive game for us. I understand the fans’ frustration. I understand that what they saw wasn’t acceptable.
“It’s my responsibility to try and address that within the group.
“We will need their support, we definitely need that, because the only way we are going to get out of this is to stick together as a club. But the players have to do more.
“We have a short preparation time for Tuesday, but we will do everything possible to make sure the team is as well prepared as possible.”
In a bid to prevent further losses, O’Neill admitted he may ring the changes for the game against the Hatters but he did give some praise to goalkeeper Jack Butland who returned to the team on Saturday.
He said: “I thought Jack was very good and deserved a bit more protection than he got.
“We’ve been consistent with selection in the back four to try and breed confidence and there’s no doubt that players missing there are hurting us. Not having the likes of Ryan (Shawcross) available is definitely a blow to us.
”We are conceding too easily and conceding too many, as simple as that.
“We are not dealing with balls into the box well enough and not competing well enough.
“We have to look at the level of performance – we had too many players that were short.”