PAOLO Di Canio said his Swindon Town players should consider themselves as “donkeys” after they missed the chance to go top of League One on Saturday.

With both Tranmere and Doncaster losing, a win against rock-bottom Hartlepool would have taken the Robins to the division’s summit, but Andy Monkhouse came back to haunt his former club once again as he notched a 75th-minute equaliser after Simon Ferry had fired Town in front.

Di Canio was upset with his team’s display, as they struggled to get into any kind of rhythm in a second period during which their struggling guests found it much easier to manipulate possession.

When asked whether he was angry not to have gone top, he said: “Not for me, the lads have to think about that because they’re the protagonists. As a manager I am disappointed but they have to think. If they think ‘ah okay, nobody won, we are very close and we will see the next game’ it is for rubbish, stupid, unprofessional people.

“If they think ‘we are donkeys’ then probably they will improve again. The problem is when you feel you can behave arrogant. They have to feel hurt because they were the protagonists of an important job today.

“For this specific game they have to blame themselves and say ‘we were stupid and donkeys’. After three away games like we had, how can you not put the attention and determination in thinking this is a Champions League final.

“But this is the mistake that we made every few weeks when we played against a side that apparently can’t hurt you.

“That proves, if I’m honest, that we’re not ready for the top.

“Someone can now start to criticise my words. If we achieve what we want to achieve it is because of my mentality that I brought in.”