Danny Mills has ripped into the Newcastle United squad after Ciaran Clark admitted the players “weren’t up” for their crushing defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-England and Leeds United defender insisted it is not the sole responsibility of Steve Bruce to motivate the squad for big games.
Clark told the press while on international duty: “We weren’t up for it as a group of players. For some reason, it didn’t work for us. That was the most disappointing thing.”
The result left the Magpies one point above the relegation zone after a run of just two wins in the last 20 games.
“The players have got to step up first and foremost,” Mills told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.
“It’s OK saying ‘The manager, the manager, the manager’ but the players need to go out and perform.
“They have to do their job, that’s what they’re in the team to do, that’s what is incredibly important. Don’t keep blaming the manager, constantly looking for excuses saying ‘oh yeah, this, oh yeah, that’. Go out there and do your job. Make sure you can do the best job possible.
“To a point, a manager has an influence but if you can’t get yourself up for one of the most important games of the season, you’ve got issues, major issues. You need to have a look at yourself.
“Did I need a manager to get myself up for certain games? No. Sometimes, maybe an extra five or 10 per cent but they were well below that.
“They need to have a good look at themselves first and foremost and say ‘Hang on a minute, this is not just down to the manager, we’ve made some poor choices.’”