Sunderland manager David Moyes has confessed that his side 'lack the quality' needed to claw their way back towards safety, but is refusing to give up hope of beating the drop.
The Black Cats fell to their 21st defeat in 31 top-flight outings this season on Sunday afternoon, losing 3-0 to Manchester United at the Stadium of Light.
Moyes believes that referee Craig Pawson's decision to controversially send off Sebastian Larsson late in the first half, having already fallen behind to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal, was a key factor in the defeat but was also aware that his players were not good enough on the day.
"I don't want to blame referees for my position and us losing," he told BBC Sport. "Today the result was helped by the referee. Manchester United were playing well but it was a decision that went against us. [Before they scored] we were hanging in the game and staying in the game and trying to do our best.
"We gave away a poor goal and I thought we needed to get a lot closer. When we went down to 10 men it made it a lot harder. We keep going. We have another home game next Saturday and we have to try and win it.
"We do some good things but just lack a bit of quality but it's not for the want of trying. The boys are doing everything they can. The hardest thing as a manager is losing and we're losing a lot. The players care and want to do well and we're not doing as well as we should be."
Sunderland, who face West Ham United in their next outing, are now 10 points from safety with one game in hand.