Chris Coleman launched a scathing attack on his Fulham players after Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Blackburn left them in the thick of a relegation battle.
Coleman maintained the glamour Carling Cup tie with west London neighbours Chelsea on Wednesday night now paled into insignificance compared to next weekend’s crunch trip to fellow strugglers Norwich.
He said: “Everybody is talking about the Chelsea game, but forget about that – we are in a relegation dogfight and I will take a win next Saturday over going through to the semi-finals of the cup any day.
“My guys better believe they are in a dogfight and start fighting like Blackburn.
“I think maybe our players think they are too good – even to be in our team – that they are better than that and shouldn’t be in a dogfight.
“But they are there because they, we, myself included, have put us there.”
Coleman bemoaned: “Blackburn are a good side, but at times we made them look like we were playing Arsenal.
“I don’t know where our arrogance came from in the first half.
“There were too many players thinking they can just turn up – I think they don’t know the position we are in.
“We have lost six games in eight and when 95% of my players think they can go out and hide, you get results like that.
“The first 45 minutes was the worst I can remember in my time in charge.
“Their body language was atrocious. Our so-called ball players did not want it – when they did get it, they looked like they were on a beach in Rio, flicking it here and there.
“Blackburn just showed more desire. Have Blackburn got better players than us? No. Did they want to win the game more? Yes.
“Now we will see who are the ones who are willing to roll their sleeves up – we were booed off today and rightly so.
“We are not even playing for ourselves. They didn’t look like they were interested.
“In the second half we huffed and puffed a bit, but that is not good enough.”
The Fulham manager added: “It is not fitness. What it is, is when things are not going right, people are looking around, pointing fingers, maybe it is this, maybe it is that – crap.
“It is crap excuses. You are paid to play football for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon and the basics of that is you roll your sleeves up, show a bit of bollocks and have a go.
“If you turn up like we do, and you are arrogant, go out and think ‘we will win because we have got good players’, then that is what happens.”
Coleman declared he would be prepared to wield the axe in order to get things back on track.
He said: “I am not afraid to make big decisions and lately I have been looking at a few players and I don’t know if their heart is really in it.
“They are certainly not giving the team enough and if I have to change it around a bit, I will.”