BOHEMIANS defender Brian Shelley admits that the Gyspies players cannot use the club's financial state as an excuse for the poor run of form which has seen the league champions slump to fifth place in the league table.
Just days after they went down 2-0 at home to Galway United, the Bohs squad have a chance to at least try and get back into the good books of their supporters, and maybe also save their season, as they take on Bray Wanderers in a re-fixed league game tonight.
A win here -- not a certainty against a bright young Bray side who beat St Pats on Friday night -- would see Bohs move back into the top three and give them a platform to stay in contention for the title and try to secure European qualification for next season.
Whether their financial woes would bar them from entering Europe next summer is entirely another matter, and it's unlikely that all of the current squad will be around for the 2011 season, as the players have already been told that the club will not be able to honour contracts for next season.
For some of the players, especially those who previously played for clubs in crisis like Shelbourne (Owen Heary, Jason Byrne), Shamrock Rovers (Brian Shelley, Barry Murphy), Drogheda United (Shelley again) and Derry City (Gareth McGlynn, Ruaidhri Higgins), it's a case of déjà vu.
"This is the third time I've had this in my career," says defender Shelley. "We had this at Rovers in 2005, and I had it at Drogheda where I was four months into a three-year contract when the club went bust.
"It's very hard to take as a player. You sign a contract and you expect it to be honoured but none of us here at Bohs really know where we stand for next season. As players we have brought around €2m in prize money and European money into the club in the last few years, and here we are, in trouble.
"I know that the TNS result in Europe was a disaster but the players still find it hard to understand how the club can be so far off its budget when we have been successful in the last two and a half seasons.
"As players we can also understand the frustration the fans are feeling now. What we have been doing on the pitch is not good enough.
"TNS, the Rovers game, the Galway match on Friday, just not good enough. We know that.
"We feel the pain too and I hope the supporters know that.
"But we can't say that the money situation now is a factor for us. We are professionals and we can't allow that be an excuse for how we have done in the last few weeks.
"Pat Fenlon said to us after the Rovers defeat that while the build-up to the game, in terms of the financial position, was not ideal, we could not use it as an excuse for the performance or the result.
"The situation at Bohs is very serious, we know that. The players don't live in a bubble.
"So all we can do is try to make things happen on the pitch, and that means winning this game at home to Bray tonight and then going on to win our next two," added Shelley.
"I don't know if we can do enough to win the league again, but from my point of view I want us to give it a real go.
"This squad of players has been very good for Bohemians. I think Pat Fenlon said it was the best team Bohs ever had in their history, and we don't want to be remembered as the team that threw away a three in a row. We want to at least finish on a high and win our pride back," added Shelley.