Gary MacKenzie admits a letter from fans has “got under the skin” of Blackpool’s players and has inspired them to lead the club to safety.
The Pool players took the unprecedented step of writing a reply to a letter received from the Blackpool Supporters Association which claimed the squad had no pride in the shirt.
After the fans’ letter was read out to the players by skipper MacKenzie at a special meeting at Bloomfield Road yesterday, the players decided to write a response with the help of The Gazette’s Will Watt.
And MacKenzie assured everyone that the players are totally committed to the Seasiders.
The defender said: “The supporters are entitled to their opinion and I’m glad they’ve done that.
“But to question if we want to win or if we care got under a few people’s skin.
“That’s just not the case – everyone who plays here wants to win.
“When we pull on the jersey, we will do everything we can to win and keep this club in the division.
“It makes no difference where the players will be next season – no-one wants the black mark of relegation.”
The supporters’ letter claims “a significant number of those who are pulling on the famous tangerine shirt have no pride in it”.
MacKenzie said of the accusation: “Of course it hurts. No footballer likes to have their commitment questioned. In our case it’s been frustrating. We may have played poorly in some games but we’ve always given our all.
“When people question that it’s hard to take. We haven’t give up and never will.
“We are in a better position than the teams below us and it’s in our hands.
“If we all stick together and the fans get behind us, we will get through this.
“I have to say overall the fans have been great all season, even though it’s been up and down.
“If we can stick together for the next three weeks it will be enough to see us over the line.”
Blackpool travel to Leeds tomorrow just three points clear of the relegation zone and MacKenzie hopes the players’ actions will speak louder than words.
“Nothing I say or we put in a letter will change people’s opinion,” he said. “The only way we can do that is by doing it on the pitch.
“If we do that, hopefully we can prove people were wrong to question our desire.
“I want everyone to give everything they can in every game.
“People might have questioned our performances but I can assure fans the will to win is still there.”
Stand-in boss Barry Ferguson hopes the letters will have a positive effect.
He explained: “I had contact from the chairman on Wednesday telling me that the supporters association had sent a letter in and that it was to be read out before training on Thursday.
“We saw the reaction it had with the players. It was a bit different to what we are used to.
“The players have to use this in a positive way and show people they care.
“They have to go out now and give everything to the cause. I’m sure they will”