RORY DELAP insists the players must take the blame for Saints' downward spiral over the past six months.

The Republic of Ireland international midfielder was brutally honest in his assessment of the club's current situation but believes it is wrong to blame anybody other than the players for recent displays.

He also spoke of the team's collective disgust with their performance in the 5-2 drubbing at Watford and the need to repay the faith of the fans - some of whom have even demanded the players personally refund their ticket cost for Tuesday night - as well as Steve Wigley.

He said: "It's down to us. The results are down to the players.

"Managers and coaches and the backroom staff can only do so much and as many people have said before as soon as you step over the white line being the manager must be the most frustrating place to be as you can't do anything.

"We haven't given good enough performances not just this season but for the last six months - it hasn't been up to the standard of this club since I've been here."

He added: "I know managers always get the blame but we owe Steve one as well as everyone else."

Following Tuesday's humiliation Delap revealed the players held a meeting to discuss what went wrong. "The players got together and had a private meeting," explained Saints' record signing.

"There was a lot of good things said and a lot of truths came out and hopefully that's put to bed a lot of things the players were worried about.

"I can't say what was said because it was personal but a couple of the senior players went to the gaffer to pass on some of the things that had been said in it and there was a positive reaction all round."

Delap was keen to emphasise that the players know just what this derby match with Portsmouth means to the fans - and how much Tuesday's defeat hurt them.

A win would go a long way to repairing the damage done so far this season whereas defeat is almost unthinkable.

"No matter who we were playing tomorrow, after the performance we put in at Watford we would have to put the result right," he said.

"It wasn't good enough by a long way and the players need to put it right for the manager, the coaches and the fans.

"Before the game the fans were tremendous and then rightly turned on us.

"A lot of them probably work with Portsmouth fans and we want to give them the opportunity to go into work on Monday with their head held high and be on top of the banter. We're thinking about that and we know that's important to the fans and it's important to the club and the players as well.

"We played badly at Fratton Park as well last season and when you put that with Tuesday night's performance we owe them quite a lot."

Wigley is still searching for his first Premiership win in charge of Saints but there is already speculation he may not have much more time in which to get it.

Delap added: "This is a game we've got to win. The worst possible result for us is a draw.

"Whatever situation we end up getting into we can't say we're happy with a draw. If we don't get the win it's not good.

"It's a massive game and we need to put everything into it.

"We don't want to turn it into a scrap because we do have quality and we have been scoring goals and with players coming back as well we can hopefully improve."

"Tuesday night was the worst performance I've been involved with in my time at the club and we know it wasn't good enough.

"The fans were right to turn but the taunts were aimed at the wrong people - it was the players that put in a performance that bad and hopefully now we can get them something to cheer about."