Gary Caldwell lambasted Wigan Athletic’s ‘unacceptable’ performance in the 3-3 draw at Colchester that saw them lose two points on all of their promotion rivals.
Latics were indebted to Will Grigg for the last-minute equaliser that salvaged a point - and extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches.
But Caldwell was in no mood to celebrate, with Latics having twice failed to build on first-half leads to allow the rock-bottom U’s to level at the start of the second period.
Colchester then took the lead for the first time on the hour mark, before Grigg’s late face-saving act.
With leaders Burton, third-placed Gillingham and fourth-placed Walsall all winning, the pressure has been cranked up with only 10 matches to go.
And the Latics boss believes his men only have themselves to blame.
“This club has high standards, and we expect a lot from this season,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“When we drop below those standards, we can’t accept it.
“We have to be honest - with the players, with each other - and in that second half it wasn’t good enough.
“The players were warned at half-time.
“We told them that if they play as well as they did in the first half, and squander as many chances as we did, then you have to be aware that the opposition are going to come back in to the game.
“I warned the players that you have to show your superiority on the scoreboard.
“We weren’t as far ahead as we should have been and Colchester made us pay for that.
“The performance in the second half was nowhere near what we expected.
“It’s not good enough for the position we are in.
“If we want to be successful, then that isn’t good enough.
“We have to work hard to put this right next week.”
When asked whether it was a mental problem, Caldwell paused for thought.
“I’m not sure what it is,” he replied.
“We have got a psychologist that comes in so I’ll ask him on Monday.
“I don’t think it is...I don’t know what it is.
“But when you’re as far ahead as we were in that first half, you have to show it on the scoreboard.
“You can’t show it in your performance. You have to show it by goals.
“You have to pout teams to bed, we didn’t do that and we’ve paid a massive price.”
Caldwell also rejected the theory that the hectic schedule was a factor in Wigan failing to hit their straps.
“I don’t think fatigue is an issue because we finished the game very strongly,” he added.
“There was only one team going to win it in the last five minutes, because physically we were right at it.”