Neal Ardley is bearing the weight of responsibility after his AFC Wimbledon side’s dire form in League Two was extended to just two wins in 15 outings.
The slump in form, compared to five wins in the previous eight games, has dropped the Dons to 15th in the table, and they face a tough tricky to Wycombe Wanderers this weekend.
After the 1-0 defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge on New Year’s Day, Ardley admitted he had been neglecting the art of putting the ball into the net – a fact proven by a record of just one goal in the past five games.
And with leading scorer Michael Smith returning to Charlton Athletic, with any chance of his return unclear, Ardley has moved quickly to bring in 21-year-old striker Charlie Wyke from Middlesbrough on a month’s loan.
Ardley said: “I take responsibility for this season. I have been trying to evolve how we play and improve as the season goes on, but it has not worked out.
“Perhaps I have neglected some of the things that are important for picking up points in this league, which is obviously scoring goals.”
He added: “Over the past few weeks I have recognised that, I am not stupid or stubborn. We have tried to tinker with things to be more of an attacking threat.
“Against Dagenham, it was ebb and flow for 10 minutes, then we conceded a really sloppy goal from our point of view. After that we controlled the game for large spells.
“Their manager came up to me afterwards and said: ‘I don’t want to patronise you because we’ve won, but no team has come here and done that to us. We thought you were excellent.’
“Ideally you want to get something from the game, but we’ve had two cleared off the line, two one-on-ones with Luke Moore that have been missed, and we’ve had two far post volleys from George Porter that should have been scored.
“I am trying to set us up to have loads of chances and have the stats in our favour, and that is working, but we are not taking them.
“I cannot crucify the players, because it is a confidence thing but rightly so the fans are not happy because they are not seeing the in the back of the net.”
Anything less than three points at Wycombe on Saturday will mark Ardley’s longest stretch without a win since taking over in October 2012, but he insists he is better equipped to handle pressure this time around.
“I sense the pressure I put on myself, and the pressure from fans who want us to do well,” he said.
“After the past two seasons, you want the fans to have a season to enjoy rather than worry about.
“Thank God we had a good start, otherwise we would be staring down the barrel, but from where I was last season and the job I had to do, and how tough that was, I look at this group of players and I think if I can cope with last season, I can certainly cope with this now.
“This now is a case of keeping the performances up and giving the players the confidence to get in the right positions and to score.”