Aston Villa manager Remi Garde concedes he has found his job even harder than he expected to since taking charge in November.
After a 6-0 home loss to Liverpool last time out, Villa are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League with only three wins from 26 matches this season, leaving them eight points adrift of safety with 12 games left to play.
Despite his admission over the scale of his task to turn things around, Garde insists he will not give up hope in Villa’s battle against the drop after former owner Doug Ellis claimed this week that relegation was “a certainty”.
“Of course it is difficult, I have not come here to hear criticism and lose games,” he said ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stoke City.
“But it would be very weak in my position to say I am not responsible or I want to run away – I am not this kind of person. It was a very difficult situation, I knew that before I came, but maybe not as much as I find.
“I must respect the words of Doug Ellis because I know a little bit about what he has done for the football club, it is huge. I have only been here for four months and it would not be right for me to make bad comments on that.
“The only thing is that until the last day that we have the possibility of being safe in this Premier League, I won’t give up.
“My job is to still believe and make the players believe that if we have a good spell of games, like we had previously, maybe we can still be in the Premier League next season. I am still fighting.”
Garde also called for greater fight from his players and rued the lack of options within his squad after a quiet January transfer window.
“We don’t have room for manoeuvre with so few players,” he said. “Sometimes it’s about fighting and commitment. It’s the first thing professional players should have on the pitch, how can you be confident if you are not fighting?
“I don’t see the commitment from all the players every day in training sessions. I had the choice of other players I would like to select I would like to, but I don’t have the possibility.
“I have to find the right training session and words to make them committed every day.”