Remi Garde admits difficulties winning Aston Villa fans over are playing a part in his team's dismal run of form and slammed their performance against Wycombe Wanderers.
The former Lyon boss hit out at his players on Saturday, insisting they stopped playing against Wycombe and revealing he cannot explain why. The Premier League's bottom club are now without a win in 16 matches in all competitions after the 1-1 draw against League Two opposition in the FA Cup third round.
On another low day for Villa, goalscorer Micah Richards clashed with angry away supporters who were sitting behind the bench during the match as he attempted to defend the players.
Travelling fans berated manager Garde after he took off Carles Gil and there were also chants against the squad after the full-time whistle.
When asked by BT Sport about the Richards incident and whether fan frustrations were part of Villa's difficulties, Garde replied: "Yes, of course.
"I am not saying that we are not trying but we are not at our base level individually every week in the same time.
"Some are down some games and some are up in other games, but we need to be at the top level with 11 players at the same moment.
"I don't feel players are letting down but we have to cope with the situation - it is a very difficult one that is going on."
When asked how a team who were in the lead against lower-league opposition can stop playing, Garde said: "I don't know. I can't explain.
"I know what I ask to my players before the game and what I repeat at half-time but then maybe we couldn't today. Yes [confidence is lacking] but every week now for eight or 10 since I have been here I am speaking about confidence, but then we are professional and at one moment you have to realise the confidence will only come within you.
"You have this inside and then one day you have to be brave enough one day to stop speaking about confidence and speak about professional players and quality, but I did not see that enough today.
"In the first half I think that we stopped playing after the first goal and until then it was direct football from both teams. But then we didn't play the game I wanted my players to play.
"Then we have been punished on let's say a silly situation, I am not sure it was really a penalty but that is the game."