Aston Villa caretaker manager Eric Black praised his side’s attitude despite seeing them slump to an eighth consecutive league defeat at the hands of Bournemouth on Saturday.
Steve Cook gave the visitors the lead in first-half stoppage-time at Villa Park, with Josh King doubling their advantage on 74 minutes.
And although Jordan Ayew did reduce the arrears five minutes from time, it was too late for the rock-bottom hosts.
Norwich’s defeat at Crystal Palace at least meant that Villa’s relegation to the Championship was not confirmed and Black took some positives from the performance.
“We wanted effort and a little bit of desire and what I asked them to do, they worked really hard to do it,” he told Sky Sports.
“It wasn’t always as efficient as we would have liked, but I thought they showed a great attitude.
“In the second half, we went 4-4-2 and I thought we were more adventurous, but just didn’t get the goal early enough to cause Bournemouth more problems than we did.”
The result means that Villa remain 15 points from safety with only five games left to play, but Black is determined that his charges will remain professional, even though their relegation to the second tier for the first time since 1987 is all but assured.
“It’s not exactly a dream situation, that’s for sure,” he said.
“However, as I said when I came in, I’m a professional, I’ve been in the game a long time now and I won’t allow the standards to drop.
“I got that from the players today, but there have been certain elements that have been consistent in our play for a long, long time and we have to work really hard to try and eradicate those and continue to be professional.”
The Scot also refused to criticise the club’s fans, who again brandished banners calling for the departure of owner Randy Lerner and waved white handkerchiefs.
“I can fully understand that if you’ve been coming here for the last however many weeks it is, it’s not been great fun,” said Black.
“We’ve won 18 or 19 from our last 80 home games, so that hasn’t had the supporters on the edge of their seats bouncing with confidence.
“So I won’t be anywhere near critical of any supporter.
“We had a good crowd here again today and the club now has to give something back to those supporters; it’s as simple as that.”
Next on the agenda for Villa is Saturday’s clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.