Gary Caldwell admits he ‘can understand the frustration’ of the Wigan Athletic fans at present - but only for the league position, not Saturday’s performance against Brighton.
Latics remain second-bottom of the Championship after a disappointing 1-0 DW Stadium reversal to the Seagulls.
The home side were undoubtedly the better side for more than an hour, without being able to translate that onto the scoreboard.
And they paid a high price as Bolton-born Dale Stephens fired home the only goal from 25 yards midway through the second period.
Caldwell’s decision to withdraw star striker Will Grigg at the break in play for the goal was greeted by boos from a section of the home support, a scene which was repeated in some areas of the stadium at the final whistle.
But the Latics chief felt that was a harsh assessment on the balance of a 90 minutes in which his side more than held their own against one of the favourites for promotion.
“I can understand the frustration at the league position,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“I can’t understand the frustration at the performance.
“I can’t understand when they come to this stadium and they see a team playing the way they are, with a desire and a passion...I can’t understand that.
“They come to support their team, and for me they should support them.
“At the end of the game, if they want to criticise me, that’s fine.
“But they have to support the team, and get behind them for 90 minutes.
“They can criticise the league position, but don’t criticise the players, because they’re giving absolutely everything.”
Even though a point would not necessarily have been a bad result, Caldwell admits he was thinking only about picking up all three points before Stephens’ wonder-strike.
“We were trying to win the game - we always try and win the game,” the Latics chief revealed.
“Our subs were made to try to win the game, and find different elements in the game to try and hurt them.
“But the players have to believe in themselves more.
“I believe in them, the staff believe in them, and they have to show that belief on the pitch when they get into that final third.
“We can’t put it in the net for them - they have to show that quality and belief to put the ball in the back of the net.
“There’s loads of things we work on within training to get people nearer Will, to get that understanding of when we can get players into the box.
“But the players have to get that belief, and have that arrogance that they’re going to score goals and they’re going to win games.
“Until we find that, it’s going to be difficult.”
Caldwell is also waiting to learn the extent of the hamstring problem that caused Nick Powell’s substitution just after the half-hour mark.
“He felt his hamstring, although I don’t think it’s too bad,” he added.
“Hopefully we got him off at the right times, and we’ll assess it on Monday.”