Team ought to be doing much better – Skuse
COLE Skuse insists Bristol City should not be in a position where they need to win their final home game of the season against Barnsley tomorrow in order to secure their Championship status.
City have waged a fight against relegation this season and long-serving midfielder Skuse readily admits he and his team-mates have under-achieved.
Although victory over Barnsley at Ashton Gate will condemn Coventry and Portsmouth to the dreaded drop along with already-relegated Doncaster and enable City to relax ahead of their final game against Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday week, the Bristolian feels it is wrong to dismiss the bigger picture.
An unbeaten six-match run looks to have extricated the Robins from the mire, but Skuse said: "It should not take us dropping into the bottom three to spark us into life. We should never have been in this situation in the first place.
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"It all stemmed from the beginning of the season when we made a really bad start. We have made terrible starts to the last two seasons, not picked up enough points and given ourselves a mountain to climb.
"We're missing out by a nose at the moment and we are still looking at other results. But we should not be doing that. With the players we have in our squad, we know we ought to be doing better and we have to take full responsibility for that.
"If we beat Barnsley the pressure will be off, but we must not allow that to mask what has happened over the past two seasons. We know we have to do better in the future." City's immediate future appeared bleak when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Derby County and dropped back into the bottom three at the end of March.
But manager Derek McInnes has galvanised his players to put the Robins within touching distance of safety. Victory over Barnsley will secure a sixth successive season in the Championship irrespective of what happens in games involving lowly Coventry and Portsmouth.
Skuse said: "This run has come at a good time, the lads are confident and the crowd have been fantastic and got behind us and that has carried onto the pitch.
"When we have really needed to dig in, we've shown that we can get results. We still have two massive games to play but, hopefully, we can get it wrapped up on Saturday.
"Barnsley at home is a massive game for us and we cannot be looking for others to do us a favour. We are not yet in a position where we can relax and I know the manager will not allow us to slack off.
"We have to do it under our own steam and, if we can beat Barnsley and be safe, it will be a nice way to finish things off. The last thing we want is to go into the Burnley game still needing something and have another week of uncertainty."
It is perhaps no coincidence that City's recent revival has coincided with Skuse's recovery from a broken toe and return to first-team action.
Since he returned to the starting line-up, the Robins have taken nine points from five games.
Manager McInnes rates Skuse highly and feels he is often under-rated. He said: "There is no question for me that the poor run we were on came when Cole Skuse was out of the team. That was not the only reason, but he has been a very important player for me and, at times, he is under-rated. I think he should believe in himself more, because he has all the attributes.
"We have managed to get him fit at the right time and he has given us an energy and a poise in the middle of the park."