Stoke City manager Gary Rowett insists he will not hide away from criticism as the Potters’ struggles continued with their Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Rowett has come under increasing pressure this week after his side suffered two identical 3-2 reverses, with both games seeing Stoke attempt to overturn a three-goal deficit.
And the former Derby County boss claims he is not the sort of character to deflect the blame away from himself, despite his much-favoured side currently lying four places above the relegation zone.
“I hope I’ve never tried to shy away from the blame,” stated Rowett.
“I could very easily try to find as many reasons as I could to take the pressure off myself.
“I deserve the pressure at the moment and I understand the pressure. I’ve been here a few times before, it’s not something new to me.
“It’s something I hoped we wouldn’t be feeling this year, but it’s the reality. So we’ve got to find a solution first and foremost.”
The Stoke boss reiterated that his team are close to solving the defensive issues which have plagued them so far this campaign.
“We’ve got to try and be intelligent in the way we make decisions to change things,” he added.
“But ultimately we also have to eradicate the errors.
“Defensively we’re making it harder for ourselves to then allow the attackers to keep scoring goals that should win us games rather than come back into them.”
Questions have been raised over the players’ commitment to the cause, but Rowett was keen to defend the mentality of his squad in the wake of two disappointing results.
“I think the players care, I think the players are disappointed, I think the players are frustrated with themselves.
“I don’t think there is any player that has played at a high level who wants to be in a run of form when they are not playing well.
“What’s difficult is the more we talk about it, the more we kind of highlight that we’ve not been defending well as a team so you hope it doesn’t exacerbate it.
“They feel accountable. They’re working hard to put it right and we know that a lot of these errors that we’re making at times are very uncharacteristic.
“At times they are similar to other errors we have made. We’ve got to work hard so that A) we find the right solution to the back four and B) to find a more consistent form.”
The Potters travel to the New York Stadium tomorrow (September 29) to face Rotherham United, who sit one place below Stoke in 19th position.
However, Paul Warne’s newly-promoted side are not to be overlooked, with all three of their victories so far being chalked up at home.
And, after failing to secure three points on any of their away league outings so far this campaign, it’s a fixture that Rowett admits his players will not take lightly.
“It’s the Championship,” said Rowett. “You will get sides that will fight and scrap for their lives and we’ll go to Rotherham and they will scrap for everything.
“They’ll put us under pressure, they’ll try to force us into making mistakes like other teams have done but what we’ve got to do is stand up and be strong just like the Sheffield Wednesday game a few weeks ago.
“Then we’ve got to show our quality. If we show our quality, there’s absolutely no doubt about what this team can do.
“We certainly won’t take it lightly and we’ll prepare for them just like we prepare for any other team, but what I would say is that we are more than capable of going there and winning the game.”