David Moyes insisted his Manchester United team are still responding to him despite the 2-1 defeat by Sunderland in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg that consigned the club to three consecutive defeats for a first time since 2001.
The manager also berated the referee, Andre Marriner, and his officials for the "terrible" decisions that led to Ryan Giggs's own-goal and a penalty winner by Fabio Borini, with United managing only a Nemanja Vidic header in between.
Moyes claimed the officials' calls were in keeping with a recent theme. "We're having to play them as well as the opposition at the moment," he said. "It's really terrible, it really is. We're actually beginning to laugh at them, that's the thing."
United's two previous defeats had been by Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City at Old Trafford, with Moyes having exchanged stern words with his side following the latter reverse on Sunday.
The run of losses 13 years ago came at the tail-end of the league season when United had nothing to play for, having clinched the title. This dismal run of form is more significant but the manager was clear that he is content with how players are reacting to instruction. "I have always been happy with how they players have been responding," he said. " I thought they were good tonight, apart from the opening 15 minutes."
Giggs's own-goal came after Marriner blew for a free-kick when adjudging Jonny Evans, who later limped off injured, to have fouled Steven Fletcher. From the ensuing Sebastian Larsson delivery Sunderland took the lead on half-time.
"I thought the referee was going to blow in our direction for the first goal," Moyes said. "I couldn't believe he gave a free-kick. It was a terrible decision. We defended a terrible free-kick but how the referee has given a free-kick for that is way beyond me. I just cannot see how that is a free-kick. The centre-half and the centre-forward jumped together and he gave them a free-kick."
The penalty by Borini was awarded after the assistant referee Peter Bankes appeared to inform Marriner that Adam Johnson had been fouled by Tom Cleverley inside the area.
Moyes inferred that the winger had dived: "We had a player booked for that the other day. We had a player booked against Tottenham for the same," he said. "The referee is looking at it – he's in a great position to look at it, right down the line, probably 15 yards, not too close, but the linesman gives it from behind. He can't see, he can't see through Patrice Evra but that's what we are finding at the moment."
Throughout the tie Moyes and his side received vocal support from the travelling fans, though the manager is conscious that it is more than a decade since the club endured such a run. "This hasn't happened at Manchester United for a long time," he said. "I thought the support was great. They are sticking with the club, sticking with the manager and that's exactly what you need when you are not doing so well."
Moyes claimed that a reversal of form may happen when Swansea visit Old Trafford on Saturday. Asked what is keeping him believing, Moyes said: "Well, because I have been here before. I have done it before, I'm experienced and I just sense that it's just on the verge of turning. I sense that we are about to get a bit better."
He also insisted there was no issue with the watching Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton and Bryan Robson. "Not at allI find the three of them terrific."
Moyes denied that a deal has been concluded to bring Fábio Coentrão from Real Madrid. "No, that's not true," he said.