David Moyes: We're close to desperation at Sunderland
David Moyes admits Sunderland's season has reached "desperation" point as he attempts to fight fires both on and off the field.
At the end of a week which saw Moyes apologise to BBC reporter Vicki Sparks after intimating he might "slap" her having taken exception to a question she had asked, the Scot will send the beleaguered Black Cats into battle with Manchester United knowing the writing is all but on the wall.
Sunderland find themselves 10 points adrift of Premier League safety with just eight games left and know they will be relegated if they do not embark upon the kind of remarkable run which has saved them in the recent past.
Moyes said: "Look, we're not kidding on, we're getting close to desperation.
"We have to win. I have been saying that for the last... I was probably saying it before Christmas time.
"In fact, I've been saying it since probably day one of the season if you want to be truthful, that we had to win.
"I don't think my message has changed from then to what it is now, that we have to try to win the games.
"We are certainly not giving up. We have got chances. The club has done it (in the past). If we won the remaining games, we would stay up.
"That's the answer, win the remaining games."
Moyes and his players have watched videos of the club's remarkable great escapes in the search for inspiration, with the manager insisting the furore which surrounded his exchange with Sparks - he has until Monday to respond to a Football Association request for his observations on the incident - has not been a distraction.
He said: "It's been a busy week because of the games. The other situation is now gone and in the past and I have moved on.
"Nothing would ever get in the way of my preparations as a manager or as a coach. I'm incredibly focused on my job and that's the way it will always remain."
It will be four years in May since Moyes ended his long reign at Everton to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at United, and it has proved a testing period, with his tenure at Old Trafford lasting just 11 months, his spell at Real Sociedad only a little longer while life on Wearside has been challenging from the off.
He said: "You know, all the jobs are tough. The toughest thing about this is I'm bottom of the league, that's the hardest thing. But all jobs carry tough challenges.
"Wherever you go, everybody gets a tough challenge for different reasons. This one is because we have not been able to win enough games and we are bottom of the league at the moment. That's the real toughness."
Moyes believes he got a raw deal at United, where Louis van Gaal and present incumbent Jose Mourinho have struggled to restore the club's fortunes, although he remains convinced it will one day return to the pinnacle of English football.
He said: "I think Manchester United would be a tough job for whoever is in charge, but in time, they will turn it around and they'll get it back to where it was.
"But the word I said was 'time'."