Martin O'Neill believes the hard times his Aston Villa players are currently experiencing will benefit them in the long term.
Villa have slipped out of the top four and the running for the final Champions League qualifying spot on the back of a six-game winless run in the Premier League.
The Midlands club were thrashed 5-0 at Liverpool on Sunday and, although admitting results have been disappointing, O'Neill believes the current cloud hanging over the club could have a silver lining.
He told the club's official website: "They have to experience this. This is what it's about if you're going to go and play at the very top.
"You play and you want to be there and you want to be there not just for one week of the year, but you want to be there on a regular basis.
"I think players can learn from the way other teams play but you've got to go and compete.
"We've got to get back on track again. Winning football games in this Premier League is exceptionally hard. We were doing that fine until about four or five weeks ago.
"It's been a really fine effort by the team this season to be up there but we can't just go and disintegrate. We've got to start winning some games again and once we win we can get confidence restored again."