Simon Grayson rounded on his Leeds players after they slumped to a third successive defeat at Barnsley, being undone by a Ricardo Vaz Te hat-trick in a 4-1 defeat at Oakwell.
Grayson has been placed under some considerable pressure by owner Ken Bates who has demanded promotion to the Premier League this season, but has been unable to deliver results equal to the outspoken veteran’s lofty ambitions.
This was Leeds’ fourth game without a win and comfortably the worst performance of that sequence. Luciano Becchio netted a late consolation after Vaz Te and Craig Davies had done the damage for Barnsley.
Grayson does still have the backing of the supporters, though, who have opted to direct their anger at Bates for a perceived lack of investment in the team.
The former Chelsea chairman’s commitment to spending is set to be tested over the coming days too, with Grayson warning his current crop that today’s performance was not acceptable and that some of them could have played their last game for the club.
“Where do you start?” Grayson asked at the post-match press conference.
“There are so many words you can use to describe the performance. Embarrassing, shambolic, too many to say.
“When you play for Leeds United you have to earn the right to wear the shirt. Too many of them didn’t do that and that’s embarrassing. A lot of stuff is going to have to happen over the next couple of days.
“Any footballer can have a poor day at the office, but unless someone chops your legs off, you can run around. It’s embarrassing to be the manager of the club. They’re my players and my team. One or two might not play for the club again.”
Grayson calmed talk about his future after the Boxing Day loss at Derby, making light of the fact that Bates has already allowed him three years in charge. Monday’s clash with Burnley would be his 165th at the helm, but he accepted that results are not helping his cause.
“It’s not making it easy but I won’t shy away from the work or responsibility needed,” he said.
“I will guarantee I can work hard and anything that happens beyond that will not be my decision. I’m proud to be this manager.
“Every one of the players has to look themselves in the mirror tonight and be embarrassed by what they’ve done today and make sure they do something about it on Monday.
“I want to get to the Premier League with this club and my staff do. One or two players are too comfortable in just earning their money and they have another thing coming.”
Vaz Te stole the show with his treble, all clinical finishes, but was never meant to be on the pitch by the time his 15th-minute opener arrived. He was an early replacement for stand-out captain Jacob Butterfield who limped off after a challenge from Michael Brown.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Barnsley manager Keith Hill, who has finally got the best out of the 25-year-old after a nomadic career so far.
The Portuguese now has 10 goals for the season, but Hill had a word of warning for him afterwards.
“I think he was disappointed not to start the game and I’m glad he has responded,” Hill said.
“But I think he was getting lazy. His function is not just to score goals, they’re the bonus. He has to defend. We know what sort of player he can be and unless he educates himself, he’ll be a sub wherever he plays in the world.
“It’s important that when you have a vice, you work on it.”
Butterfield, widely expected to leave the club in January owing to his excellent form and expiring contract, has suffered knee ligament damage and is expected to miss three weeks.
“It was a challenge that belongs in the past,” Hill said of the incident.
“We’ve all fallen foul of it. It’s an old pro’s challenge. He (Brown) is an excellent, clever player who has done a job on him.”