Jack Ross rarely criticises his team in public but after Fleetwood it was different.
There was no scapegoating, but the message was firm. Sunderland have to get a lot better.
One win in six, and automatic promotion hopes over with a whimper.
Lewis Morgan had no issues with that and urged his side to be more ruthless.
“Rightly so [manager had strong words], strong words were said in the dressing room," he said.
"The fans turned out in great numbers and we didn't do them justice.
“I know we started the game well and got the goal. We spoke at half-time about sloppiness maybe creeping in and we needed to make sure that didn't happen in the second half. The reaction wasn't there, really.
“I don't think it was through a lack of effort but what we need to do now is be more ruthless when we are on top of teams.
“We've still got a great chance of going up and we're going to need everyone – we need all the fans. They have every right to be sore, everyone at the club is, but we need everyone at the club behind the team and that will help us push on and get out of this league.
“One thing expected of this team and I think we do give it is that effort which should be a given anyway," he added.
"What we need to do is be more ruthless and keep things tight at the back as well.
“That comes from everyone. We can't keep conceding goals like this. There maybe was that wee bit of sloppiness and the gaffer had every right to have words.
“We've got to move forward. We can't dwell on this, we need to use this as ammo to encourage us to improve."
Morgan knows Jack Ross better than anyone, having been his key player in St Mirren's promotion campaign last time out.
He insists he can get Sunderland over the line and urged the club to stay united.
“I've worked with him for two years now and I've got nothing but positive words to say about him," Morgan said.
"I would ask that everyone as a club is behind each other – that doesn't just mean the manager, that means players as well because there's a great manager at this club and he's proven in the past he can get up leagues. When we step over the white line that's our job. He can only prepare us so much.
“It's been us as players. I'm of the opinion that's it's our fault we've not been putting games to bed and that's something we need to look at as players. We will have a chat through the week as a team.
“We've still got a great chance so we've got to be optimistic and keep pushing on. We wanted to take it to the last day but we've not been able to do that.
“Now our sole focus is on the play-offs and there's a great chance for us to go up. Everyone needs to be together at the club."
The challenge now is to end the season in front of a sold-out away end and go into the play-offs with some momentum.
Sunderland's semi-final opponents are still to be determined but Morgan is confident the Black Cats can come through any test.
“It starts at Southend because we want to be heading into the play-offs on the back of a win," he said.
“We're potentially four games away from promotion and then these games are forgotten about. What we can't do is forget the feeling of defeat and make sure that drives us on.
“Whoever you play in the play-offs is going to be a tough game," he added.
"We want to finish the season as strongly as we can and get third place but we need to beat whoever we get in the play-offs to go up so we need to focus on ourselves and make sure we do our business. We're going to try and finish the season as positively as we can.
“In football if you can get that momentum behind you teams are hard to stop and although we've only got one game between now and the play-offs we really do need to go out and win it.
“I would urge the fans to keep backing us. The players don’t take that for granted, that's one thing.
“They turned out in their numbers, they were brilliant and they have every right to be disappointed.
“We know we can beat anyone on our day. But the sloppiness has crept in and we've drawn too many games, I think everyone knows that.
“But we know in the play-offs, if we perform as we can we'll go up and that's what we're aiming to do."