Dexter Blackstock: Nottingham Forest's players are responsible for stuttering form
DEXTER Blackstock is not one for excuses. In fact, his relaxed, laid back manner can often gloss over the starkness of his message.
Lounging deep into his seat and taking his time to pick his words, the striker speaks slowly and with thought.
But it is often only when you type up what he has said that you realise that his words are actually quite hard hitting.
In this case, it is the question of responsibility that has Blackstock in full flow, as he debates how much influence the players have had in a remarkable few months that have seen two changes of manager.
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In terms of the season as a whole, Blackstock says there is no question that Forest have underachieved.
"It is not just about the management, it is about the players as well," he said.
"The players have to do their part. Managers have been sacked and results have not gone right.
"But the players have let them down and we have to stand up as well.
"If you lose a game you can't just say 'it is the manager's fault'. Everyone has to stand up and be counted."
The latest man to occupy the manager's office is a familiar face to Blackstock, who was here for Billy Davies' first spell in charge.
The former QPR man, who was brought to the club by the Scotsman soon after taking over, responds quickly when asked if Forest have a better squad this time around, as a second Davies era begins.
But, after dropping out his 'yes, definitely," he pauses for thought, before offering a more cautious assessment.
"We have got a better squad. But, saying that, how do you judge what is a better squad?
"That last squad won more games than this one has . . . maybe this squad is underachieving.
"It is easy to say that one is a better squad than the other, but it doesn't matter when you are only talking about it on paper.
"I think we have underachieved and I believe that, if we were firing on all cylinders now, it would be a better squad than the one we had under Billy last time.
"But, as it stands, we cannot claim that we are. We have to get the ingredients right and we have to start doing things as a team.
"Previously, we had a great team ethic. I have no doubt that we can get that back here.
"And, if we can get it back, we have more quality in this squad, so hopefully we can prove that we are even better."
Given the impact Davies has previously had at the club, Blackstock is refusing to write off Forest's play-off hopes.
But, if they do end up missing out, he is convinced they will make a stronger challenge next season.
"If it can happen this season, then great. But, if not, then we have to start working towards next season," he said.
"But Billy knows what he is doing. In every Championship season when he has started at the club as manager, he has got that club into the play-offs.
"Preston, Derby, Forest . . . he did it at all of them. His record is impeccable.
"He knows what it takes to get results at this level. People just need to get behind him.
"I am not sure what the unbeaten run was at home, when he was here last time. But it was just unbelievable.
"Even if we were 1-0 down late in the game our attitude was 'you are not going to win'.
"We had such determination about that. And we need that back now, because if you are going to achieve anything your home form needs to be solid."
But Blackstock is certain of one thing – and that is that the players who were at the club during his previous spell in charge will not receive special treatment this time around.
"In terms of favouritism, there is not any of that. It will not matter if you were here before. It will be down to whether you are doing the business on the pitch," he said.
"He does not have favourites, he never has. He will give you a fair crack of the whip, but you will have to work hard."
If Davies can inspire that from his entire squad, then the debate in the future may be over who can take responsibility for success, rather than underachievement.