We must win our mini-league to move out of trouble, says Bristol City boss Derek McInnes
BRISTOL City boss Derek McInnes has set his players a short-term objective of escaping the npower Championship relegation zone.
If City's aim before the start of campaign was to do better than last season, the target has had to be radically reassessed in the wake of the poor run of results that has deposited the Robins in the bottom three.
City are in effect involved in a mini-league of five teams comprising Peterborough United, Barnsley, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, who lie in wait at Hillsborough tomorrow.
And McInnes is urging his players to look no further than winning that league between now and the end of January.
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He called the players in for a meeting the day after last weekend's humiliating 4-1 home defeat to Wolves to reinforce the point and is demanding a response against a Wednesday team that has suffered six straight defeats.
McInnes said: "Any objectives we had at the start of the season have been readdressed.
"We are in a mini-league of five and we have to make sure we get away from that bottom group.
"We have to win that league and come out of the Christmas period and January at the top of it. T
"hat is our league for now and we cannot look any further forward than making sure we win enough games to get ourselves out of the relegation zone.
"We are where we are for loads of reasons and the players now have something to work towards in the short term.
"To look any further forward would be foolish."
Recalling last Sunday's first-team squad meeting, McInnes said: "We don't do anything to be negative and it was intended to be a positive exercise. I certainly came out of that meeting feeling a lot more positive.
"Last Saturday night was not an enjoyable time for any of us and the players will certainly have felt better leaving that meeting. There were a lot of things that had to be addressed and spoken about and we analysed everything from the game."
McInnes expects a positive reaction from his players at Hillsborough tomorrow and he said: "We have always had that after a poor performance.
"I would like to think that if a lot of the situations we saw in the Wolves game are replicated, we would handle them a lot better."
Wednesday manager Dave Jones is under pressure and McInnes is challenging his players to impose themselves upon opponents who are short on confidence.
He added: "We are up against a team on Saturday that will see things exactly the same as we do. They will see this game as an opportunity to get some points themselves and put another nail into us.
"They are a big team physically, just like Wolves, and we have to make sure we stand up to them. It will not simply be about going out there and playing – we have to make sure we win the battle first.
"We have to impose ourselves on them early on and play the game a lot more aggressively than we did against Wolves. Even if we are not playing particularly well, we have to make sure we are up for the game from the outset."