Ricky Holmes slammed the lack of defensive aggression which led to Pompey’s downfall against Rochdale.
Poor marking at the back was a key factor in last night’s 3-0 loss to the League Two leaders.
The home side’s greater hunger to attack the ball in the Blues penalty area was a major feature.
Richie Barker’s frustration at that was evident after the game – as was seeing Joe Devera miss a gilt-edged early chance after Bondz N’Gala’s header was cleared off the line.
Holmes believes the goals were not down to a lack of organisation but a lack of desire to be the first to the ball.
The 26-year-old believes Barker can do no more to prepare the players as extensively as he does for set-pieces.
He had no qualms in admitting it’s the players who are at fault for not executing the manager’s plans.
Holmes said: ‘At the end of the day, we’re a well-drilled side.
‘But we’ve conceded two goals from set-pieces.
‘We were in the positions to head the ball or stop the cross.
‘What else can the manager do? You can’t point the finger at him for that.
‘Those two goals were bad because of us as players not doing our jobs. We know our positions.
‘We need to be more aggressive in both boxes. That’s not down to organisation – we are being outjumped.
‘We have to be more aggressive and not concede.
‘We’ve gone back to conceding but we’re not scoring at the other end, so no-one is playing their part.’
Barker made four changes for last night’s game after the weekend loss to York City.
Holmes, Devera, Patrick Agyemang and Wes Fogden came in for Ryan Taylor, Jake Jervis, Rhys McCabe and the suspended Ben Chorley. That continues a pattern of Barker making changes as he bids to end a run of six games without a win.
The switches have been questioned by some fans but Holmes understands the reasons behind them.
He said: ‘There are changes in every game because we’re not producing as a squad.
‘It’s not the rub of the green – we’re not producing as a group.’
Last night’s defeat to Rochdale leaves Pompey just two points and one place above the League Two relegation zone.
It could have been worse. Just goals scored would have separated the Blues and Northampton had Sammy Moore not scored a late equaliser for AFC Wimbledon against the Cobblers.
Only Pompey’s league spot after the 4-1 opening day loss against Oxford stops their current placing being the lowest post-war position they have occupied in English football.
Holmes admits he is pained by knowing he and his team-mates are letting down Pompey fans.
I’ve been honest in my interviews and we have not been good enough,’ said Holmes.
‘That’s not good enough what we produced against Rochdale. We beat them 3-0 at our place.
‘We couldn’t produce and that comes back to us players.
‘The fans have turned out in numbers again and we have let them down again. We need to turn it around and fast because, if not, we are going to be in the bottom two.
‘Once you are in there it’s hard to claw your way out.’