Neil Harris has promised Cardiff City fans his players can make amends for their first defeat under his management by shocking Leeds United on Saturday.
The Bluebirds will be huge 9-1 outsiders at Elland Road after succumbing to a tame 2-1 loss at Brentford on Wednesday night.
Goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins had given Brentford a deserved lead. Cardiff launched a fightback when Marlon Pack’s pile-driver made it 2-1 on the hour, but they could not find an equaliser.
Harris branded the performance “unacceptable” but suggested his side would be improved when they got to the Championship leaders who have won their last seven games.
The former Millwall manager had claimed 10 points from four matches since taking over from Neil Warnock but said his first setback led him to confront his players.
“It was the first time I’ve had to raise my voice at the club,” said Harris. “We played some good stuff for an hour but some poor stuff, too.
“The last half hour we were on the front foot, aggressive, mixing play from going direct and being able to pass the ball as well. Sometimes it’s easy to do that when you’re chasing but you have to do it from the start.
“When we go to Leeds on Saturday, it’s a great place to go and have a reaction, I know the players will be up for it because it’s Elland Road.
“We know it’s going to be tough, but we’ve got good players and I’ve seen a good group so far. If they respond as they have to everything I’ve asked them so far, then I’ll get a really good reaction.”
The defeat leaves Cardiff back in ninth place in the table, 15 points adrift of the automatic promotion places and three behind the play-off spots.
In an honest appraisal of Cardiff’s form this season, Harris added: “We have to look at why we’ve only won one away game this season and I think we saw in the first 60 minutes why. We have to be better than that.
“Playing badly is never an issue, you don’t want to play badly and you don’t want individuals not to hit their standards, but that fight and determination that I like my teams to have – and demand – I didn’t see at times so that’s a frustration. I can’t have that.
“A new manager coming in, you can set your stall out, you can set the standards. Players have to live up to them and if they don’t they’ll have to be changed and that’s the bottom line of it.”
Harris, who suffered his first defeat in five matches since taking charge, said: “We can’t give teams a head start or give them a foothold or you will get punished against good players.
“I knew I’d find out more about my players tonight because Brentford are one of the best home sides in the division at a tight ground, a proper old-fashioned ground.
“They can play, but this season they can go direct as well. There has been a softness about us, so I knew I would find out a lot about my lads tonight.”