The Sunderland squad haven’t yet accepted their Premier League fate insists David Moyes, who says the players are continuing to give their all.
The 3-0 defeat to Manchester United at the Stadium of Light leaves the Black Cats rooted to the foot of the league, 10 points adrift of safety with only seven games to play.
But Moyes defended his players and said they haven’t given up all hope of pulling off another great escape despite their perilous league position.
Sunderland have flirted dangerously with the drop for the past four seasons but the 2016-17 campaign looks to be the year their luck runs out after a 10-year stint in the top flight.
“No. I don’t think so,” said Moyes, when asked whether some of the squad had accepted their fate.
“Even when we were down, they kept going and we tried to get a goal with as much risk as we could take without getting a battering.
“We tried to keep it going. That is what we have got.”
When asked at what point does he accept Sunderland are down, Moyes was adamant everyone will keep fighting.
Moyes added: “Only when it is mathematical – if that happens. Otherwise we keep going.
“The club has been in poor positions before and we have to see if we can get out of another poor position.”
Hopes of another great escape have faded fast over the past week after three defeats to Watford, Leicester City and Manchester United in the space of nine days.
Sunderland have gone 675 minutes without a goal in the top flight, a dreadful run stretching back seven games to the 4-0 win away to Crystal Palace on February 4.
Moyes’ side never really looked like scoring against a United side that were in command for large periods of the game, especially once midfielder Seb Larsson had been shown a harsh straight red.
United keeper Sergio Romero only had four attempts on target against his goal to contend with, with first-choice David De Gea missing the game with a minor injury.
Victor Anichebe forced a save in the first half and could have had a penalty but Sunderland again lacked a cutting edge – a major cause for concern for Moyes.
When pressed on the goal drought, Moyes added: “It has been a major problem.
“You would probably say it was a penalty kick on Victor, he was impeded when he was about to shoot.
“Maybe one or two things didn’t go our way, but our build-up is making it difficult to create and make opportunities. That is one of the difficulties.”