Reading manager Brian McDermott has called for unity after dropping deeper into the relegation mire, but insists the club are in a "great situation" compared to when he took charge three years ago.
The Royals are now four points adrift in the Barclays Premier League drop zone after going down 1-0 at fellow strugglers Aston Villa on Tuesday through Christian Benteke's late goal. With a home clash against leaders Manchester United next on the horizon, the picture does not get any brighter, but McDermott has the situation in perspective.
"We have to stick together now. It is really important we do that as a group, as fans," he said.
"Hopefully they will stick with us, and get us over the line, and we get a result somewhere. We've got Manchester United next and it doesn't get any better. Reading are playing Manchester United.
"When I took this job three years ago we were second from bottom in the Championship, trying to stay in it. The following year we lost Gylfi Sigurdsson, the summer after that we lost Shane Long.
"When you think of all of those things, if you look at it, we are in a great situation. We are in the Barclays Premier League and fighting to make sure we stay there for next year."
McDermott is confident Reading will show the right type of character to overcome their current predicament.
He added: "The players aren't anxious. We just want to get a result and get some momentum. You always find out a lot about yourself, the staff, the players, when you don't get the right result and how you bounce back. Over the years, we've bounced back all the way.
"It was not a six-pointer against Villa. It was a game of football and we've got another one on Saturday against Manchester United. Villa have got 13 points, they're going to want a lot more than that. We've got nine, we will want a lot more than that. There are 20 more games plus to go."
McDermott is also adamant Reading will cure their habit of conceding late goals. He said: "It was frustrating to lose another late goal. Over my three years here we've had spells when we have conceded late goals and solved that problem. Last season we couldn't score a goal in the first half for 19 games and solved that problem and won the Championship."