Remi Garde insists he can be the figurehead Aston Villa need to help the club fight back from the brink and avoid relegation.
Villa have lost nine of their last 10 games and are winless in the Barclays Premier League since the opening day of the campaign. They have fewer points than Derby did at this stage of the season when the Rams were relegated with a record-low total of 11 in 2007-08.
And Garde admits he must lead by example if they are to survive with Villa bottom of the league and seven points from safety after last week’s 3-2 defeat to Watford.
“It’s my job to make them stronger and more committed and more involved,” he said. “I have to show the way, I’m a guide.
“We need to improve and work as a team to defend but that’s not only the back four. It’s everywhere.
“I’m not saying that everything is perfect with the tactics but if you look at the goals we concede, the desire to win the ball must be stronger.”
Garde wants his players to be careful at Christmas and focus on their jobs. Jack Grealish has been exiled from the first team squad for this weekend after he was pictured partying following last month’s 4-0 defeat at Everton, although he is expected to return to first-team training on Monday.
Either Joleon Lescott and Jores Okore are standing by to replace the banned Ciaran Clark while skipper Micah Richards is a doubt with a knee injury.
Mistakes were costly against Watford, with Alan Hutton scoring an own goal, and while he has been happy with the effort Garde knows they are undermining their hard work with errors.
He said: “It’s mainly about confidence but as individual players everyone has to improve the level we are playing at the moment.
“Sometimes you can have a quite good collective game and then you make some individual mistakes or you are not playing at your best level.
“They have a personal responsibility but until now I didn’t see any players who were not giving me a good answer of what I want.”
Villa face a Saints side looking to bounce back from their 6-1 Capital One Cup quarter-final drubbing at home to Liverpool on Wednesday.