Nigel Adkins is realistic about bottom-placed Reading's survival chances but has pledged to fight until the end.
The Royals suffered their seventh successive Barclays Premier League defeat as Adkins' former club Southampton triumphed in his first match at the Madejski Stadium. Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana netted either side of half-time in a 2-0 victory, which leaves the Berkshire club seven points adrift of safety with just six matches remaining.
It is a predicament that Adkins is all too aware of but one which he is attempting to remain upbeat about, highlighting the fine margins that led to the defeat. "I think if you look at the players, especially in the first half, they have put in a lot of effort out there," he said.
"They had a go and maybe on another day Alfie's (Adam Le Fondre) shot goes in or the referee maybe gives a free-kick for the challenge on the goalkeeper or the linesman puts the flag up for offside when they score.
"The referee might give a penalty decision from the challenge from Jos Hooiveld or not as it didn't happen in the game. Is Le Fondre's header over the line when Artur Boruc has saved it? I've just seen it and it looks like it is 99.9 per cent over the line.
"It is not given and we are where we are. We have to be realistic and face the reality of that. But everyone at Reading is going to work very, very hard and we look forward to the next game. We are at the wrong end of the table, everyone is aware of that. We've got a big challenge on our hands."
That next match sees an even tougher opponent come to town in the form of Liverpool, although the pre-match scrutiny should not be so intense. Talk in the build-up was about Adkins exacting revenge on the club that so harshly disposed of his services 78 days ago, despite having led Saints to back-to-back promotions.
The Reading boss was given a warm reception by all in the Madejski Stadium when he emerged for the match and downplayed any suggestions of ill feeling towards successor Mauricio Pochettino.
"He said he was pleased to meet me," Adkins added. "I haven't got an issue with him. We shook hands and I have invited him for a drink after I have finished talking to the media."
It is an invitation Pochettino confirmed he accepted, although hopes Adkins will be providing the wine, saying: "I don't have to bring the wine - he invited me, no? It is a tradition in England that I really admire and appreciate. I wished him all the luck in the world out there and told him it was a pleasure to meet him."