Steve Coppell feels that his Reading side need to be more competitive if they are to avoid the dreaded drop this season.
The Royals' 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa was their eighth consecutive Premier League defeat and leaves them marooned in the bottom three.
"I think today if you'd looked at the league table before the game, you're conclusion after the game would be that there's a team going for Europe and a team in the bottom three so the difference was there," he told Sky Sports.
"They had the edge, but from a fight perspective, from an effort perspective, we couldn't ask for anymore.
"We just need to be better, we need to be more competitive and we need to push these teams a little bit closer.
"I do feel that there's more potential there, there's more to come from them.
"For whatever reason we're not playing to our optimum at the moment and now it takes a collective effort, with direction from me, to get ourselves out of this."
Nicky Shorey's last-minute free-kick may have proved to be nothing more than a consolation in the game itself, but it was the first time Reading had found the net in their last five top-flight outings and Coppell is hoping that it will have a rejuvenating effect on his squad.
"You clutch at things," he admitted.
"You do when you're down the bottom. You look for that little glint of daylight.
"You need something like that to boost you and it very much reminds me of our very first game in the Premier League against Middlesbrough. We were 2-0 down after 20 minutes and then Shorey had a little run which galvanised us. I hope that goal has the same effect for the rest of the season."