Newcastle - Tim Sherwood insists he can still lead Aston Villa to Premier League survival even though their 27-year stay in the English top flight is under growing threat after a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle United.
Villa slumped to their seventh consecutive league loss after another lacklustre display at St James' Park on Saturday which cost them a chance to climb out of the bottom three.
Sherwood has now lost his first two games in charge since succeeding Paul Lambert.
But the former Tottenham Hotspur manager claims he has seen enough from the players he inherited to suggest he can mount a successful climb out of the drop zone in their remaining 11 games.
"I'm happier in defeat today than I was last week," Sherwood said after his side went down to a first-half goal from Newcastle's Senegal striker Papiss Cisse.
"I saw an improvement and that display showed me the players are listening on the training ground and taking in the message we're trying to get across.
"If we keep playing like this, wins will come on the back of it."
Villa have no time to feel sorry for themselves as they host West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, in the first of back-to-back visits from their local rivals in the league and then the FA Cup quarter-finals.
"We're still aiming for six wins before the end of the season to see us safe, and I'm telling the boys that I'll settle for poor performances if it means we just end up taking the points," Sherwood said.
"We need a shot of confidence that a win will bring."
Lambert remained largely reticent to criticise his players or to put them under pressure during his reign, but it is an approach Sherwood is happy to abandon as he looks for ways to guide them to safety.
"Paul Lambert probably tried to take the pressure off the players, but I'm the other way. We're under pressure, that's the message," he said.
"There are a lot of good people at this club and the pressure is on us to deliver some points."
Newcastle cemented their place in mid-table thanks to an 11th goal of the season from Cisse, only two less than Villa have managed as a team in the league.
"It wasn't a classic game but we were expecting it to be tense and tight," Newcastle caretaker manager John Carver admitted after only a second win of his temporary reign since replacing Alan Pardew in January.
"We knew it wasn't going to be pretty," said Carver, who resisted the temptation to give Jonas Gutierrez his first Newcastle appearance for 17 months after the Argentine's successful battle with testicular cancer.
The 31-year-old was an unused substitute, although his appearance to warm up in the first half attracted perhaps the loudest cheer of the day.
"If you put it in the box, Papiss will score a goal for you," Carver added following Newcastle's first home win of 2015.
"His goal ratio is fantastic but we've got to provide him with the service because he's so valuable for us.
"He gets himself in the right areas and good strikers do that. It was a scruffy winner, but I'm not bothered about that."
Newcastle full-back Massadio Haidara hopes to be fit for Wednesday's visit by Manchester United despite being carried off with a knee injury in the second half to become the latest in a long line of defensive fitness worries for Carver.