Dundee United striker Steven Fletcher feels they lacked a nasty streak as they face up to almost certain relegation.
United suffered a fourth consecutive defeat on Wednesday as a 3-0 loss to Kilmarnock left them three points adrift with one game left of the cinch Premiership season.
A late equaliser from former United player Ryan McGowan for St Johnstone against Ross County looks like only delaying the inevitable as Jim Goodwin’s side would need an eight-goal swing to go their way even if they beat Motherwell and the Staggies lose at Kilmarnock.
Fletcher admitted there had been a key element missing all season.
The 36-year-old said: “We come in every day, work hard, but it’s all good doing that on the training pitch and us leaving the training pitch every day and saying ‘we’ve got a good squad’. I’ve said it all season, it’s a good team, a good group of lads.
“Sometimes it is not enough. When you cross that white line you need to roll up your sleeves and work hard for each other.
“We’ve got a great group of individual players who will probably have a great career but when you cross that line you need to work as a team and need to push each other.
“Sometimes, without overstepping the line, you need a bit of nastiness in your team.
“It’s frustrating. They’ll all go home and think about it. It’s quite a young group and it’s going to hit them. I’m an older, experienced lad, I kind of know how to take it but some of them, it might not hit them for a week or two. It is going to hit them that ‘I’m not going to be playing in the Premiership anymore, I’m going to be in the Championship’.
“They are going to need to get over it real quick because this club shouldn’t be down there, it should still be in the Premiership.
“All the lads need to go and have a hard look at themselves and see where they want to be in their careers because it is definitely not down there.”
Fletcher believes Goodwin should be given an extended contract despite the losing streak.
“I think he has been fantastic since he came in,” the former Scotland striker said. “I feel like, as a group, we have let him down to be honest. He came in and it was what we were crying out for, the way he was on the training pitch.
“He will probably say it is a group, collective thing, him as well. For me, we were the ones who crossed the white line, we were the ones who need to do the job.”
Fletcher played through the pain barrier on Wednesday after missing the defeat at Livingston.
“I had a little tear in my groin but I found it hard enough at the weekend sitting in the house watching it,” he said. “It was a risk and it didn’t pay off because I didn’t do much in the game. I couldn’t just sit at home and watch because I’m not that kind of guy.”