Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert admitted that his side's 3-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic has hit him worse than the recent heavy losses to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
Villa went into Saturday's game at Villa Park off the back of an 8-0 mauling at Stamford Bridge and a 4-0 humbling at their own ground by Spurs either side of Christmas Day, leaving Villa teetering above the relegation zone.
However, after goals from Ivan Ramis, Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone lifted Wigan out of the bottom three and consigned Villa to shipping a total of 15 goals in their last three games, Lambert said that was the loss to the struggling Latics was the most significant. "Spurs are a really good team and Chelsea too but there was a good chance against Wigan to break away," he said. "This was a side that came here with one point in six games and we are at home. That is what is disappointing."
Villa take on Swansea City on New Year's Day before they host Southampton in what could be a hugely important match at the bottom of the table, and Lambert said that losing to a relegation rival such as Wigan so heavily is hard to stomach.
"That's the disappointing thing, when you are competing with everyone else round about you and you get turned over 3-0 at home, then it certainly hurts you, that's for sure," he said. "It's a hard one to take."
The former Norwich boss had to look on from the dugout as some of the home fans left Villa Park before an hour of the game had been played following Kone's 56th-minute strike to make the score 3-0. Lambert said he understands the frustration of supporters who had to endure the Premier League safety being secured at a very late stage last season, and were given hope of a revival with a well-earned 3-1 win at Anfield prior to the Chelsea defeat.
"The fans since I've been here have been brilliant, totally fantastic with myself and the team, so I can understand," he said. "The crowd will go away hurt like everybody else, so are we. I know we have to stick together, that's really important.
"This football club has been in a survival battle for the last couple of years. You're in a fight, but so are about eight other teams. Everybody is in a fight. The last three results have certainly hurt us, there's no doubt about it because everybody was all positive after the Liverpool game. But as soon as three results go against you, there's negativity, I can understand that. I can see that. But I've got the belief that Aston Villa will be fine."