Russell: Blame the Pompey players

123105_NOTTINGHAM_22/9/12''(left) Darel Russell has his shot blocked by Jake Wholey. ''NPower League 1 action, Nottingham County FC V Portsmouth FC at Meadow Lane, Nottingham.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (123105-499)
123105_NOTTINGHAM_22/9/12''(left) Darel Russell has his shot blocked by Jake Wholey. ''NPower League 1 action, Nottingham County FC V Portsmouth FC at Meadow Lane, Nottingham.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (123105-499)
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Darel Russell reflected on Pompey’s slump into the relegation zone and insisted: Blame the players.

An abject 3-0 defeat at Notts County on Saturday has left Michael Appleton’s men in 21st spot.

They can have no complaints over a third successive loss, having been outplayed for long periods.

Appleton’s revamped side are struggling to pick up points at present, resulting in the slide down the table.

Inevitably, criticism of the manager and players is now beginning to be heard from some sections of the Blue support.

But Russell is adamant the responsibility lies with the players alone.

He said: ‘It was a terrible result for us and the players definitely have to take responsibility.

‘There are obviously a lot of issues surrounding the club and it is easy to make excuses about those issues.

‘As far as I am concerned, though, training has been top notch, the preparation top notch, as has been the information that is provided to us.

‘It’s just a case of now relaying that on the pitch.

‘Whether it is naivety or lack of concentration, as players we need to take that into the game and produce that consistently.

‘We need to take responsibility.

‘That is the missing link right now I feel.

‘There is only so much the management and coaches can do because when you step over that line you make the decisions and take control of the ball.

‘The management doesn’t take control of the ball, the coaches don’t take control of the ball, you as a player on-and-off the ball take responsibility for your actions on the pitch.

‘There’s a reason we carry out work on the training field and it is to benefit us on a Saturday in a game.

‘When we fail to do those things you find yourself facing an uphill struggle.

‘Knowing your actions and what you need to do is a big part of being a player.

‘Right now we must relay the information told to us on the training field into a game on a consistent basis.’

Pompey have conceded 15 goals in eight matches.

Overall they have collected just one clean sheet in 10 in all competitions.

At least Appleton could name an unchanged defence for Meadow Lane.

Yet still the back four didn’t impress in the struggle.

Russell added: ‘You can say they need to develop an understanding at the back but Saturday’s first goal was a set-piece.

‘What understanding is needed?

‘Everyone has been involved in corners all their life in football – we understand that – and you want to defend the goal.

‘It was a set-piece, simple as that. What centre back and defence doesn’t understand they need to defend that?

‘That is a basic of football, defend your goal.

‘It’s easy to say those things. but for me it is about taking responsibility as a player, taking responsibility for a situation and playing to the best of your abilities.’