Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes says he has no problem with his players’ work-rate and attitude as he looks to get the points needed to steer the team away from relegation.
The Rugby Park side suffered a blow last week when their Scottish Cup hopes were ended by Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
That 2-1 defeat in the Highlands disappointed McInnes and in the immediate aftermath he questioned his side’s desire to win. On reviewing the data, he’s changed his opinion and says he saw evidence that the team is putting in the effort on the park.
“I looked at the stats and the first port of call is you want to see how hard your team is working and running,” the Killie boss said. “We were above average from where we normally are. Even compared to games we have won this season, the running stats were absolutely fine.
“I know the team want to win and there is a real effort there but we have got to help ourselves in certain situations. I just thought they were brighter, more alive to second balls, I thought they played forward more and ran forward more and and I just thought we were a little unsure of ourselves.
“We had our hands full and I just felt we needed to show more composure and calmness than anything, and just deliver a better performance overall.
“When you say things after the game…. I stand by the fact that I thought Inverness played the game more like a cup tie, but it wasn’t through a lack of effort from my players.”
Kilmarnock currently sit 11th in the table, just three points ahead of Dundee United and still in the play-off spot with ten games to go.
McInnes knows his side’s home form could make a difference and he called on the fans to get behind the team and tip the balance in tough spots.
“Last season we had a squad built to get out the Championship and the majority of that squad was under contract for this season,” he said.
“We have now got to show we have a squad here that is good enough to stay in the Premiership. We don’t get trophies and medals at the end of the season but it’s the same outcome.
“When you are top of the league and you bring that support with you, it’s great, and we tapped into that last season.
“It’s important we now have that again, there is a recognition that everybody has their part to play, stay behind the team, have that belief with the players.
“The home form has been good and the home fans have seen a lot of our better performances this season, and that is going to be key for us.
“I appeal that any frustration or anger towards results recently, particularly the Inverness game, they would channel that towards Saturday’s game and getting right behind the lads.
“Because the one thing you can’t aim at them is lack of effort.
“There is a real willingness to make sure we get the job done. We all feel the responsibility of that and I feel, like last season, we will meet that responsibility.”