Stoke manager Nathan Jones is fully aware he could lose his job as he knows something has to change to stem the tide of the club’s abysmal run of form.
The Potters remain without a Sky Bet Championship win this season after suffering a one-sided 3-0 loss to table-topping Leeds at the bet365 Stadium to leave Jones with a wretched record of just four wins from 25 matches in charge since taking over in January.
“I’m a brave manager and we believe we will turn it around but the players have to show responsibility as well,” said Jones, who claims the alarm bells started to ring in his first game in charge – a 3-1 defeat at Brentford in mid-January.
“It’s about changing the mentality to be able to come back and handle the pressure of situations, and at the moment they [the players] are not doing it.
“Last year the start here cost one manager [Gary Rowett] his job. It might cost me mine, you never know. It’s not for the want of trying but something has to change, whether that’s the manager or the mentality of the players.”
Asked whether he has the support of the owners, Jones added: “Yeah, as far as I’m aware.
“I’ve got a good relationship with them, they see the work we are doing but that won’t continue forever. I know that.
“If I’m not the one, if I ever, at any point, feel like I can’t change, like I’m flogging a dead horse…I do feel we are making big strides but we haven’t got the rewards we should have had.”
Stoke at least battled up until Leeds carved them open in the 42nd minute, with Stuart Dallas rounding off a sublime series of one-touch passes.
The second half was all United, with Ezgjan Alioski and Patrick Bamford completing a rout that could have been worse but for some fine saves from Adam Federici, who had replaced benched England goalkeeper Jack Butland.
“It seems when something goes against them they mentally go,” said Jones of his players
“When the first goal went in we seemed to lose all the belief that we tried to instil in them.”
Further comparing the two sides, Jones added: “They [Leeds] had far more guile and steel, which we don’t have.
“They were relentless, absolutely relentless. That’s a mentality and an athleticism. We’re not there yet, we’re not at that level.”
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa was naturally delighted with what was a commanding display, notably once his side had opened the scoring.
He said: “The start of the game was a little bit complicated for us but we adapted and started to manage the ball, then we scored and we produced a good performance.”
Assessing what United need to do to stay ahead of the chasing pack on this occasion, compared to last season when they dropped out of the top two into the play-off places, Bielsa added: “It’s very difficult to predict what will happen.
“One of the most important things, one of the keys, is that we do not have a lot of injuries and, of course, the positive results affect the ongoing performance of the team.”