Mauricio Pellegrino still believes he can lead Saints to Premier League survival.

Pellegrino’s side slumped to an awful 3-0 defeat to Newcastle to leave themselves in deep trouble with eight games to go.

Saints don’t play in the league again until the end of the month, with the FA Cup quarter-final at Wigan to come before an international break.

It gives Saints just a little breathing space to try and get things right after a truly horrific performance at St James’ Park. And Pellegrino is adamant that he can revive the attitude of the players and keep them up.

“I am part of the context,” confessed Pellegrino.

“This is the bad face of sport.

“In one side there are winners and the other side there are losers and the loser looks worse than we are.

“Everybody looks we don’t have capacity to play at this level but this is part of our life.

“In the next weekend we have got another opportunity to try to move forward in the FA Cup and still this club and this group of players are in a position that still we are alive.

“We have eight games to go and I think we have a lot of things to show and I think we will do it.

“Overall we have to change, we have to switch on our spirit and compete much better.”

As well as a dreadful result, the defeat at Newcastle called into serious question the spirit and character of the players.

Pellegrino wasn’t pulling any punches after the match and when he asked whether he felt that the players had simply given up, he replied: “Yes, and for me to be honest this for me is the main thing to organise the team, to create the team. The spirit of the team and the attitude of the team is everything.

“We have been talking about this a lot of time from the beginning.

“You can have good players, you can have budget, but without spirit and personality is really difficult to compete.

“This is the minimum that we have to show. If not it will not be easier.

“At this level we have to cope with a different attitude.”

However, Pellegrino wasn’t totally without hope for the future, and is still confident Saints will turn it all around.

“My players realise quickly what they did,” he said.

“They know. They are intelligent.

“Sometimes this is a feeling that we can change overall with our behaviour and not with our talking.”