Stephen Robinson warned his St Mirren side were in a relegation battle following their “woeful” defending in a 4-2 defeat at Motherwell.
Robinson claimed some of his players’ minds were on summer moves after he endured a painful return to Fir Park.
Saints took an early lead through Eamonn Brophy but were behind seven minutes later with Motherwell netting simple goals through Sean Goss and Connor Shields.
Conor McCarthy levelled after a corner but Dean Cornelius restored Motherwell’s lead in the final minute of the half and Shields wrapped up Motherwell’s first league win since Boxing Day following brilliant approach play from Kevin van Veen.
Saints travelled to Lanarkshire with cinch Premiership top-six ambitions very much alive but St Johnstone moved six points behind them in 11th.
Former Motherwell boss Robinson, who has suffered six defeats in seven games since replacing Jim Goodwin, said: “We got what we deserved. It’s woeful defending.
“Going forward we were okay at times and the front three caused lots of problems and created chances, we passed the ball okay, but defensively we were really poor.
“The (first) three goals, they literally passed them into the goal. The four goals were pathetic.
“I believe we’re in a relegation scrap. I believed it a few weeks ago without coming out and saying it, but I genuinely believe we need results very quickly.
“We have players who are good enough but unfortunately players’ heads are turned and players are maybe elsewhere already.
“It’s up to me to try and find a way to make sure we’re set for next season and then I can put my own stamp on it and bring in players I need to upgrade the squad.”
Motherwell boss Graham Alexander praised his “superb” players after they moved up to fifth.
“I’m really proud of them as we all know we’ve had to sit and take the criticism because of our results, and we couldn’t really fight against it,” he said.
“But we showed what we are as a team. We passed the ball brilliantly, ran forward and worked hard for each other.”
Alexander shrugged off the pressure he was under after a last-gasp defeat by St Johnstone, which was exacerbated by being confined to the house by Covid.
“I have had 34 years of it, don’t worry about it,” he said.
“Honestly, it’s like living in Scotland, it’s going to rain sometimes, you still want to live here and work here. It’s the same as football, a great sport, I love the job. Sometimes it rains and you have to put your umbrella up and take it. Sometimes you haven’t got an umbrella and you get soaked.
“Listen, it’s life, it’s not an issue. How can we say some of it is not warranted? We hadn’t won for 11 games.
“But I knew we were better than our results showed, I knew the margins in a lot of those games were very, very tight, I didn’t think anyone outplayed us.
“Sometimes you just have to keep your counsel, keep working hard and believe in your players. I believe in this group of players, even if we hadn’t won today, I love working with them.
“They are honest and work exceptionally hard, but we are all human and not perfect.”