• Manager says he understands supporters' frustrations
• Norwich sliding into danger after defeat by Southampton
His words were emphatic enough that you could practically have punctuated each one with a full-stop. But Chris Hughton, the Norwich manager, is kidding himself if he really believes them.
"No, we are not losing the fans," was his response to another thrashing on and off the pitch. Norwich conceded four times as Southampton swept them aside at St Mary's and Hughton suffered the ultimate indignity as the travelling fans turned on him, branding him clueless as he made a triple substitution in the second half.
Not losing the fans? Maybe Hughton should check out Norwich's local message boards: the opinions there are colourful and cruel. "Can we put on a video of best 1-0 wins ever to distract him in the dressing room, and the team can get on the coach quickly and leave him behind?" asked one poster, capturing the lighter side of an overwhelming sense of desperation.
"The fans are the heartbeat of the club," Hughton said. "There'll be occasions when they like what they see and occasions when they don't.
"I absolutely understand their frustrations and, as a manager, if there's any criticism towards stuff that's going on then I have to accept it."
But no amount of pandering will placate them now. Norwich looked awful against Southampton and their remaining fixtures – ending with Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in succession – look even worse. The Canaries have won just two of their last 15 league matches and their cushion over the bottom three is being whittled away at an alarming rate.
Nonetheless, Hughton denies he has already privately acknowledged his fate is sealed. "I can only deal with the things that are facts," he said. "It's a tough period, there's no getting away from it, but if I think back to last season we finished 11th but with three games to go we could mathematically have gone down. When you have tough periods you just have to show resilience and character, and you have to be as calm as you can."
Southampton, who had been in fitful form recently, won the match with a fine team goal finished by Morgan Schneiderlin in the first half and further efforts from Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and Sam Gallagher in the second. It was the 18-year-old Gallagher's first Premier League goal for the club.
Bizarrely, Norwich almost clambered back into the match by sheer fortune. Johan Elmander and Robert Snodgrass scored late on, briefly making it 3-2, when chances were gifted to them as the home side switched off. Anything but defeat would have been an injustice.
Man of the match Rickie Lambert (Southampton)