Dundee United manager Mixu Paatelainen would not concede relegation is now an inevitability, but admits it’ll be “very hard” to avoid it.
A 2-0 loss to Inverness CT leaves them eight points behind second-bottom Kilmarnock with only five games left.
The Finn criticised his players for a lacklustre display.
“It’ll be very hard. It’s been very hard for a long time but obviously we keep fighting, we keep believing,” Paatelainen told BBC Scotland.
“Today was a major disappointment – the way we performed, the result, but we’ll look at the match, analyse it and hopefully don’t make the same mistakes again.”
‘Nowhere near good enough’
The team were booed off at half-time and at the final whistle and Paatelainen was asked whether he felt the players had shown sufficient hunger to help lift them out of their precarious situation.
“Today we were very poor and obviously we can’t accept performances like that but unfortunately we’ve had too many poor days and that’s why we’re where we are in the league table,” he acknowledged.
“But that is unacceptable and the supporters have every right to criticise us and to be unhappy because the performance today was diabolical.”
Paatelainen, visibly angered by the toothless nature of his team’s capitulation, was also asked whether some home truths had been shared with the players following the defeat.
“Absolutely. And at half-time. Nowhere near good enough. Poor, poor, poor performance,” he continued.
“All credit to Inverness. They wanted to be first on the ball.
“Also retaining possession up front – nowhere near good enough and if you don’t have the ball how can you create problems for the opponents, so that was the story today.”
Next up for United is a Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibernian on Saturday, though whether that provides a welcome distraction from their league woes is a moot point according to Paatelainen.
“We’ll get ready for the next match, whether it’s a cup match or league match and treat it as important as any other match,” he added.
“That’s our attitude and that’s the way we go about it. We’ll prepare accordingly and try to do our best next Saturday and see where it takes us.”