David Moyes says he was under no illusions when he took charge at Sunderland and knew he faced a “big battle” to transform the club’s fortunes.
Injury-hit Sunderland have been relegation contenders for each of the past four seasons after a run of shocking starts.
And with just two points to their name from the opening eight Premier League fixtures, the Black Cats are rooted to the bottom of the top flight.
Moyes admits it is a “real hard task” facing him at Sunderland, but insists the club has the chance of a great future because of the strong fan base.
The 53-year-old, of course, has experience of longevity at this level after spending 11 years in charge at Everton.
The Scot was in charge of the Toffees for 427 Premier League games between 2002 and 2013 – the third longest spell of the any manager in the Premier League era behind Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
He transformed Everton into a top-half team, occasionally challenging for the top four, and they were renowned for being difficult to beat.
Sunderland are anything but at the moment, yet Moyes is up for the challenge.
“When I joined the club there was no-one going to tell me that I expected us to be away from where we were,” said Moyes.
“I said that in a different way but it’s a club which we know is going to be a long haul.
“But because of the level of support, this club has the chance of a great future.
“I knew when I came here it was going to be a big battle, a real hard task.”
Sunderland, four points adrift of safety, were backed by almost 3,000 supporters for the defeat to Stoke City on Saturday, the away end a sell-out.
And despite the hosts going in at the break 2-0 up, the fans gave the team their full backing for the second half.
“The support was the highlight for anybody involved with Sunderland,” added Moyes.
“They really stuck with the team and showed how big the club is.
“We took 3,000 supporters to Stoke and they really stuck with the players, even though it was hard for them at 2-0 down.
“I have to say well done to them, they deserve credit for the way they conducted themselves.”
Attention now turns to West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday, with Sunderland – the only top flight side yet to taste victory – desperate to bring an end to their winless start to the season.
The depleted Sunderland squad, currently missing nine first team players through injury, has a full week on the training ground ahead of the Hammers clash.
“It would be good (full week on the training ground), but we’re getting injuries,” added Moyes.
“It’s not as if they are happening in training, they are all in game time, so that is the worrying thing.”