Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis insists it is ‘non-negotiable’ that players run, tackle and fight even if confidence is low.
Club captain Lewis reckons those factors were absent from the Reds’ 2-0 loss at Hearts.
That defeat dropped Aberdeen to 10th in the Premiership table.
Lewis insists new boss Jim Goodwin isn’t looking for ‘miracles’ – just hard work, athleticism and fight.
The stopper believes there wasn’t enough of that at Tynecastle.
Despite the lowly league position, the Dons are just five points behind fourth-placed Livingston.
Lewis reckons rocketing up the table to push for European qualification is wide open for any team that wants to grab it.
The problem for the keeper is the Dons, without a Premiership win in 2022, aren’t looking like a team who are going to push for those spots.
He said: “We need to show more energy, willingness to run and tackle regardless of whether anyone is feeling confident or not.
“That’s non-negotiable really.
“It’s something that we need to inject into our game, and show more fight.
“That (bottom six) is absolutely not where Aberdeen should be.
“Going higher up in the table is there for a team who wants to grab it.
“But right now we are not really looking like a team who are going to do that.
“We have to show resilience and fight.
“The manager is not asking for miracles from anyone.
“He’s asking for hard work and athleticism and to put ourselves about.
“There wasn’t enough of that.”
All players should take responsibility
The 34-year-old insists it must be a collective responsibility from every player to turn around the poor form.
Should Aberdeen fail to win at Ibrox on Saturday, it will be the second time this season they have endured a 10-game winless streak.
In losing 2-1 at Dundee on October 17, the Reds went 10 games without a win. It was the club’s worst run of form since 2010.
Now it could be matched just five months later.
New manager Jim Goodwin has only been at Pittodrie for two weeks, having replaced Stephen Glass who was sacked last month.
Lewis said: “I think all players should take responsibility.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are.
“Look at Lewis Ferguson – he’s been our stand-out player for us this season in my opinion and he’s only a young boy.
“I don’t think it necessarily should come from just the senior boys, but certainly we have to help the young boys.
“Look at Connor Barron, who has been fantastic. He’s been a leader on the pitch since he’s come in.
“It needs to come from everyone.
“There’s a limit to what one individual can do. It needs to be collective.”
The need for a result against Rangers
Aberdeen travel to Rangers looking to go one better than the previous two meetings this season.
In January, they were held 1-1 at Pittodrie by the Gers.
Lewis said: “We have had decent performances against Rangers this season.
“Now we need to replicate that and show a lot more than we did against Hearts.
“We need to find a spark from somewhere.
👌🏼 The diving header.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) October 28, 2021
“The games will run out soon.
“The league is condensed and there is an opportunity for someone to go out and grab it and go on a run.
“We need to show the willingness to go on a run.”
Clean sheet drought must end now
Aberdeen’s inability to secure clean sheets this season continues to damage their campaign.
The Reds have registered just five shut-outs in 38 matches in all competitions.
Lewis accepts they have to tighten up at the back and also carry a scoring threat.
He said: “To be a successful team, it is based on clean sheets.
“But we need to carry a threat, too.
“We need to be a team that is hard working, who win their first and second balls.
“We need to find that spark, maybe take the lead in a game to give ourselves something to work on.
“We’ve not had that of late and we need to find it.”
Frustration at losing at Hearts
New Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin warned his squad that the performance against Hearts was ‘nowhere near the levels required‘.
With just four games remaining before the Premiership split, Lewis accepts the turnaround in form must come now.
After the Rangers clash, the Reds face Hibs (home), Dundee (away) and Ross County (h) before the split.
He said: “Hearts’ movement caused us problems and we struggled to get to grips with the game early on.
“We weathered it a little bit, but never really gained a foot in the game to build on.
“For the 90 minutes. Hearts were the better team.
“We are disappointed we were second best against Hearts.”