Marcel Schmelzer has called on Borussia Dortmund's flagging squad to "give something back" to under-fire boss Peter Bosz.
The Dutchman's honeymoon period in charge at Westfalenstadion is certainly over after a run of seven matches in all competitions without a run - results that have seen Dortmund fall to third in the Bundesliga and be on the verge of exiting the Champions League.
In an interview with Kicker (via ESPN), Schmelzer insisted that it was the players who were to blame for Dortmund's current plight and attempted to rally the troops with a call to arms ahead of the club's next fixture against Stuttgart on Friday evening.
The club captain remarked: "With his calm and analytical approach, he conveys a good feeling to the team. He knows what he does.
"That he sometimes protects us should not lead to us hiding behind him. It's our duty to give something back to the coach.
"We players should not hide behind the nervous discussion about system and tactics which is led in public. We must perform again in the situation we are in right now."
Dortmund are winless in their last four league clashes - taking just one point from a possible 12 - and sit joint bottom of Group H in the Champions League thanks to two draws and two defeats.
Bosz has drawn criticism for the high defensive line he has employed as part of his Die Borussen tactics, whilst others have stated that the club don't have the necessary quality to compete for titles anymore.
Schmelzer went on to dismiss both of those suggestions, although he did admit that the "not well attuned back four" did need some work.
He added: "Quality? I don't think that's the problem. It's a mix of several things. Especially with the young players, declining confidence is of concern.
"But the lads must go through the process that up is not the only way and that they sometimes don't make the squad. They will grow and come back stronger. We don't have one big problem, but rather several smaller ones."