Simon Grayson has warned his Sunderland side that no team in the Championship is too big to be relegated.
Grayson, who took his boyhood club Leeds United up from the third tier of English football, saw the Black Cats lose their fourth successive home Championship match against Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon.
Another sparse crowd witnessed the home team fall into the relegation zone as Brentford hammered Bolton 3-0 to climb out of the bottom three.
Grayson remains bullish about the season ahead, with 37 games remaining, but would not shy away from the bleak picture on Wearside.
He said: “It is only a low point at this moment in time. We have lost another game. We want to make it better for everyone connected to this club.
“No club is too big to go down. You’ve had Man City, Leeds, Forest – big teams who have gone down into League One.
“We are not thinking about that. But we must be aware of where we are.
“We dust ourselves down, back at work in the morning, Ipswich and Preston our next two games to try and get results to pick up points and get us up the table.”
“I have to be realistic,” added Grayson.
“Any team in this division can go down. Are those at the top all talking about automatic promotion right now? Probably not. But some teams might be.
“We have got to do what is required to win a game and I fully believe I have got a good squad who will get us results, pick us up the table and use this as a difficult experience for everyone to make us all stronger and better.”
Grayson has admitted that the poor run of results means that he will come under increasing pressure, but the 47-year-old remains confident in his abilities and pointed to his experience as a reason to believe he will turn it around.
He said: “Look, I am under pressure because we have lost another game and there is pressure I put on myself.
“I don’t like being in this position where we have lost another game, but I have 650-plus games under my belt, and I know what is required as a manager to get a successful team going again.
“We are not doing the right things at the moment, and we all need to work hard and give ourselves an opportuinity to be successful.
“Losing matches isn’t good for anyone. I am confident in my ability that with the players coming back we will get these results.”
The game was again played against a backdrop of fan anger at the ownership of the club, with chants and a banner reading ‘Short Out’ present in the South Stand.
Grayson would not be drawn on whether he thought that Sunderland owner Ellis Short was still interested in the club’s fortunes, but said he and his players had to take it upon themselves to improve the mood.
He said: “That is not for me to comment on. Ellis has made his decision and Martin made his statement last week, but it is down to us to make sure we get the results to make it easier for everyone connected to this club.
“They [players] have got to be strong physically and mentally to shut it out.
“There were times at Leeds when fans wanted (chairman) Ken Bates out, punters pay their money and are entitled to their opinion.
“The players get paid well, so have to shut it out.”