Victor Anichebe has admitted things can only get better for Sunderland as they attempt to drag themselves back from the brink of Premier League relegation.
Sunday's 3-0 home defeat by Manchester United left the rock-bottom Black Cats 10 points adrift of safety with just seven games remaining and their 10-year stay in the top flight in real jeopardy.
Anichebe's return from a long-term injury has at least given beleaguered manager David Moyes a welcome boost, but it will take a repeat of the kind of heroics which have saved the club in the last four seasons if they are to avoid disaster this time around.
The chances of that appear to be remote with Moyes' side having won just one of their last 14 league games, but Anichebe for one is not giving up hope.
He said: "It's difficult, but that's life, that's football. I need to just keep going, the team need to just keep going and we need to just grind out results however we can for the fans who are here.
"They come in their thousands to support us every single week, even though times are really difficult. I haven't been in a position like this before with losses, and it's difficult.
"As much as it's difficult for them, it's difficult for us as well, it's difficult for everybody. But we need to just carry on, keep going because it's not good enough, let's be honest, it's definitely not good enough.
"We need to improve together as a team and we need to keep fighting. I hope that we'll improve, and we will improve. We will improve. Like I said, it can't get any worse.
"Hopefully everyone stays fit, everyone stays together, the fans and us and we just keep trying, keep working hard and play as well as we can."
Already trailing to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fine 30th-minute finish, Sunderland's hopes of mounting a fightback were dealt a fatal blow just before half-time when midfielder Sebastian Larsson was controversially sent off for a challenge on Ander Herrera.
Anichebe said: "At the time, I was right there and I didn't think it was a sending-off. I think it was more Herrera's scream that made it a lot worse than it was.
"But these things happen in games. Decisions go against you and at the moment, these decisions are going against us. That seems to be what happens when you are not doing so well."
Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled the lead within seconds of the restart and the Black Cats' misery was complete when substitute Marcus Rashford ended his long wait for a goal at the death.
Anichebe said: "We are downbeat, obviously. It was a disappointing result, 3-0, especially in a game where we really thought we'd have a real chance.
"But we just need to keep going, give it all that we can. However many games we have left, we have to just keep going, keep fighting and see where that takes us."