Dion Dublin insists Aston Villa's players have to shoulder the full responsibility for an “absolutely woeful” season ahead of tomorrow's relegation clash at Reading.
Former Villa striker Dublin believes Villa boss Paul Lambert should have paired strikers Christian Benteke and the currently injured Darren Bent on a more regular basis.
He also feels there is no guarantee the midlands club would make an instant return to the Barclays Premier League next season if they go down for the first time in more than 25 years.
Dublin, talking to Absolute Radio's Russ Williams, said; "I will always say it's the players who have to take the blame.
"The manager has a responsibility and the owner has a responsibility to spend the money wisely but I think the players ultimately have the full responsibility.
"Even when I was there at Villa with Ginola and Schmeichel and Southgate, we achieved nothing as well and for years and years the Villa fans have had nothing to cheer about.
"They've got even less to cheer about now because the team have been absolutely woeful this season and it's sad to see such a big club in such a poor position."
Lambert has often opted to play with a single central striker in the in-form Benteke with Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor operating wide in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Scot has always insisted his relationship with club record signing Bent has been fine, with no fall-out between the pair and his selection policies based purely on footballing reasons.
But Dublin claimed: "I thought Villa might have played Benteke and Bent both up front but there is something gone on. We don't know what it is.
"Darren is probably injured at the moment but there was speculation that his attitude is bad and he's been injured for so long.
"Bent is a goal scorer, you can play him in the fourth division or Champions League and he will still score goals.
"Having both of them up front would have given Villa more of a chance of having a better position in the league and scoring more goals."
Dublin has urged the Villa players to show a positive mindset during the finale to the campaign.
He said: "Believe that you are good enough, because at the moment I don't believe when they go out that they think they are good enough.
"I think they are beaten before they go out, I think their mind-set and their beliefs are not there before they go out.
"They've got to go out and say 'hold it, we've got nothing to lose, we're in the bottom three, we are down at the moment unless we turn it around'.
"I think ultimately the word is they have got to be brave."
When asked if Villa could make a quickfire return to the Premier League if relegated, Dublin said: "Having played in that division for several clubs, I'd have to say no.
"I played in the Championship for Leicester and Norwich and it's hard. Look at the size of Wolves who are down there, Birmingham who are down there, Leeds who are down there.
"They are all Premier League size football clubs and they've been down for some seasons now so don't expect to bounce back because it's one of the hardest divisions in the world to actually play in.
"You've got to change your mind-set, change the way you play your game. The championship is difficult."