Manchester United manager David Moyes admitted he did not expect his first season at the club to be so difficult and lamented his side’s lack of a cutting edge after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Fulham at Old Trafford.
Darren Bent scored a stoppage-time equaliser to salvage a point for the struggling Cottagers, who had taken the lead through Steve Sidwell in the 19th minute.
United put in cross after cross but were left frustrated until they struck twice in two late second-half minutes through Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick -- but then Bent scored with seconds to go.
Asked at his postmatch news conference whether he had ever thought this season could have been so tough, Moyes replied: “Probably not, no.
“We just needed to keep concentrating and see the game out. You could argue that maybe it was mental softness that we didn't get the job done. I would agree with that.
“It was a game we should have easily seen out. There was no reason not to see it out, it was comfortable. You couldn't say we were ever under real pressure.
"I don't know if we could have done an awful lot more, maybe defended a bit better a couple of times and taken a few more of the chances we made, but we completely dominated the game and should have won comfortably.
"The players are hurting, they hurt because results aren't going the way they want. They are really good professionals, and it makes me feel that they will get results -- there's no doubt about that.
"We are quite often seeing similar games here where we have been the better team by far, the opposition get a goal from a set-piece or a break and then we are chasing it. But we deserved to win the game."
Delighted Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen said the result showed his side -- now four points away from safety -- still had hope of beating the drop.
"We made it difficult for them," he added. "United have got some problems of their own. They kept creating chances and crosses, but we defended well and held them. "We thought at the end it's going to slip away, all of the hard work that we've done, but at the end to score that it felt like a winner.
"When I saw Manchester United today I thought the gameplan was quite straightforward -- get it wide, get it in, whether it was from the full-back pushing on or the supporting wide man and midfielder. They put crosses in from wide angles from outside the box. We defended it well.
"I do think that a few teams have come here with a different sort of approach because certain teams have come here and done well and got something -- West Brom, Southampton, Swansea, Newcastle, Everton.
"We focused on keening our shape and we defended well. The important thing is we got a point. Some people have classified us as dead and buried."