Remi Garde has revealed his frustration at his winless start at Aston Villa but insisted he remains optimistic despite their awful position.
The French boss is yet to taste victory in his eight games with Villa bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
They go to second bottom Sunderland on Saturday 11 points from safety and four points behind the Black Cats.
Villa lost 2-0 at Norwich on Monday and have not won in the league since the opening day of the season – a club record run of 18 games – but Garde admitted he has to stay positive.
He said: “I am still very frustrated not to have won a game in this country, for sure, but I am still looking at it with an optimist’s view.
“If you look at the game we had the previous week against West Ham (a 1-1 draw) we were not far away from winning. I know that we are not far away for sure.
“I am still thinking the victory will come soon and that will change the mood of the changing room and the players too.
“I am very focused on what I have to do. I know it’s getting difficult but there are still 19 games to play and 57 points to win. There are still enough to reach the target.
“Yes it is getting tougher but I am still optimistic.”
Defeat at the Stadium of Light would end a miserable Christmas and New Year after Garde targeted ending their winless run.
But Villa have won just two points from nine following games against Newcastle, West Ham and Norwich.
Garde is after Chelsea’s Loic Remy on loan – although has been criticised by Blues boss Guus Hiddink for publicly confirming his interest – and remains hopeful of a result at Sunderland.
He added: “We will go there to win. I want my team to have the best spirit they can have – everyone in this club, particularly me and the players – have to show the best we can do.”