GARY Caldwell wants Wigan Athletic supporters to vent any displeasure at him and allow his players the freedom to play their way back into form.
Latics crashed to a 1-0 home defeat to struggling Blackpool on Saturday - their third home setback in a row - thanks to Tom Aldred’s first-half header.
Caldwell’s men have mustered only one goal in their last four league matches, and are now 10 points off the pace having dropped to sixth place in League One.
After growing displeasure during the final quarter, the final whistle was greeted by booing from a section of the home support.
But Caldwell has pleaded for the fans to ‘stick with us’ as he desperately seeks a solution to the current problem.
“I think it’s premature for booing, if I’m honest,” he told the Evening Post.
“You can’t criticise the players for their efforts.
“It’s easy to forget how well we had been playing, and we have to stick with this team.
“I want the team to be braver, to be able to play with freedom.
“And that can be difficult when fans are booing or getting on at them.
“They have to vent their anger at me, and let the players go and play.
“I know fans get frustrated, but as long as they show that frustration to me and not the players, then that doesn’t bother me.”
Having overcome a patchy start to the season, Latics looked to have roared through the gears with a run of 11 league games without defeat until hitting a roadblock last month.
And the Scot believes the squad is capable of getting back in the winners’ enclosure before too long.
“They’re very good players, they have real quality - we’ve seen that already this season,” Caldwell insisted.
“You don’t become a bad player overnight.
“They just need to go out and show how good they are on a Saturday and, if they do, the results will come again.
“It ain’t happening at the moment, but you get spells like this in football - and you have to stick together.
“We’re all in this together - myself, the players, the fans,.
“There’s no point having a go at the players, because the application is there - no doubt.
“To a man, there ain’t no-one who isn’t giving 100 per cent.
“One thing I get from them every single day is hard work, and commitment to keep doing what we’re trying to do.
“I have to help them, I have to make them better, and it’s my responsibility.”
Despite recent results, Caldwell remains adamant Latics will be there or thereabouts when it matters at the end of the season.
“There’s a lot of talent and ability in the group, and we need to be judged in May,” he added.
“It’s a long season, and there will be low moments.
“We know that, and we need to keep progressing, keep coming forward, and we’ll all be judged in May.
“It’s soon soon to be judging people now. The time for that will be in May.
“If the fans want to boo in May - and I’m sure that won’t be the case - then they can.
“But only then will this season be judged a success or not.”