Benjamin Siegrist says Dundee United have to “face facts” and concede they are in a relegation battle.
Defeats by St Mirren and Hibs last week saw the Tangerines drop out of the top six for the first time since October.
Although Micky Mellon’s troops lie in seventh as they prepare to head north to face Ross County on Saturday, they are only five points ahead of the second-bottom Staggies.
It’s a crucial clash in the Highlands that could decide which way United’s season goes, with the split just six rounds away.
Speaking post-match at Motherwell, Terrors No 1 Siegrist was critical of their form and frank in his assertion that they are already in the midst of a fight against the drop.
“It’s not could be – it’s here now,” the Swiss stopper said when asked if they could be dragged into a relegation battle.
“I don’t want to sound dramatic but it’s reality. We’re better than what we’re playing right now but we have to face facts and make sure we come through as men.
“We can’t keep going down and chasing the game, saying: ‘Well, the second half was good’.
“We had the chance to draw on Wednesday and we missed it. Those kind of things are why we’re in the situation we are.
“It’s a test of character now. It’s not about everything going overboard and panicking but we have to face it.
“I challenge my team-mates to deliver because the only way we’re going to get through this is with togetherness.
“We speak about, over the years, having a good togetherness as a team but it’s doing it out there on the pitch and we haven’t quite done that with the results of late.
“We haven’t won in eight and that’s not good – that’s not what we are or what we want to be.
“That’s not how we see ourselves but if we don’t get the basic stuff right we give ourselves a mountain to climb every week and sometimes you can’t overcome them.”
“There are going to need to be some hard conversations”
Siegrist believes their current strife is a test of character for United’s squad and one they must come through if they are to survive their first season back in the top flight in four years.
Following on from Saturday’s trip to Dingwall, the Tangerines face tough opponents in Livingston, Rangers, Kilmarnock, Celtic and Aberdeen before the league splits in half.
That leads Siegrist to suggest something has to change fast if the Terrors are to get back on song, with the big keeper calling on his team-mates to “step up to the plate”.
In a scathing assessment of their current situation, the 28-year-old added: “You have to have a good look at yourself for what you’ve done and make sure you’re there for your team-mate when he’s having a hard time.
“You’ve got to make sure you encourage him but that you do your own job as well.
“There are going to need to be some hard conversations because that’s the only way you move forward and out of the situation we’re in.
“We need honest evaluation of our own performances and team performances.
“I don’t mind if people have a little go at each other because you need to put your cards on the table and put up or shut up really.
“I’ve no doubt this team can do that. It’s not like we haven’t got the leaders in this team.
“We just have to put it out there and perform on a matchday.
“Sometimes leading by example is better than screaming and shouting but, in a team, you need your vocal lads.
“It’s a test of character and the ones that step up to the plate will show.”
United need to make their mark in the Highlands
Clearly upset and angered by their recent slump, Siegrist says United need to put their stamp on the County clash if they are to turn things around.
“I take losing seriously. I hate losing so, clearly, we’re all frustrated,” he said.
“Whether sometimes we haven’t performed well enough or a decision has gone against us, it’s just those key moments in games where we can’t take authority.
“We can’t defend set pieces or score at the other end – stuff like that is obviously frustrating – but we have to go again and face reality.
“We know the situation we’re in.
“We’ve got to put our mark on the game and, at the key moments, be ruthless at both ends of the pitch.”