Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam says “four or five” of his team-mates have been “getting away with murder for a long time” at the relegated club.
The Potters have gone 13 games without a win and their 10-year stay in the Premier League was ended on Saturday.
“It’s embarrassing because we should never have been in that situation,” Adam, 32, told BBC Radio 5 live.
“As a group you have your seven or eight who try their hardest to make it work and we failed.”
The Scot, who joined Stoke from Liverpool in 2012, added: “A lack of discipline from certain players has been embarrassing.
“I’ll be honest for the supporters, I think some players have been getting away with murder for a long time and it’s difficult for supporters. It’s not just one or two, I think there are four or five that could be counted.”
Stoke recorded three successive ninth-placed finishes under Mark Hughes, which was followed by 13th last season.
Forward Marko Arnautovic, plus long-serving striker Jonathan Walters and midfielder Glenn Whelan, left the club last summer and there were heavy defeats early this term, including a 7-2 at Manchester City, 5-1 against Tottenham and 5-0 at Chelsea.
Record signing Giannelli Imbula, who cost £18.3m from Porto in 2016, has spent this season on loan at French side Toulouse, while former Barcelona forwards Ibrahim Afellay and Bojan Krkic have been out of favour, with Krkic sent on loan to La Liga side Alaves.
Hughes was dismissed in January after an FA Cup third-round loss to League Two Coventry, which followed a run of five defeats in seven league games that had left the club in the bottom three.
Former Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert succeeded Hughes and presided over a 2-0 win over Huddersfield in his second match in charge, but that remains his only victory to date.
It is not yet known if Lambert, who signed a two-and-a-half year deal, will continue as boss – a break-clause in his contract means both parties have the option to part ways at the end of the season.
Speaking on the Monday Night Club, Adam said: “The biggest thing for us is we never replaced Marko.
“You can lose players, but when you lose players who can win you a game you are going to struggle. As a group of players we should hang our heads in shame because that club should never be relegated.
“We know what’s going to happen. People will lose their jobs and we’re the ones to blame for that.”
Goalkeeper Jack Butland has criticised the club’s “farcical” transfer dealings and said there were “players you cannot rely on”.
Adams added: “We’ve spent a lot of money but you need to do your homework and have the right characters coming in.
“The biggest problem now is social media – because players cheat themselves. When you go home from training you should not be able to go for extra sessions with personal trainers. You’re conning yourself, your team-mates and the club.”