Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder said there is no shame in their winless start to the Premier League campaign after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Fulham but the players must pull up their socks if they are to retain their place in the top flight.
The Blades, who finished ninth on their return to the Premier League last season, started the new term with four straight defeats and wasted numerous chances on Sunday as Fulham also claimed their first point of the season.
Wilder's side are 17th in the standings with one point but they could drop into the relegation zone when West Bromwich Albion (18th) play Burnley (20th) on Monday.
"It's an incredibly competitive league," Wilder told reporters. "The numbers being bandied about and the lengths football clubs go to survive and be in this division.
"We've done well to get into this league way ahead of time and we've not won in the first five games of the season. It doesn't sit well, people shouldn't be embarrassed about that, it's difficult at the moment.
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"We want to be in the Premier League but we understand as well it's tough. Our position last year will have raised people's hopes around here but I knew it was going to be difficult."
Wilder said his side did not lack confidence but admitted there was "anxiety" in their play in the second half as Fulham grew into the game.
"There are no free hits in this league where you say that's where we will get it back," Wilder added.
"It's natural to see what's happening, that's what sport is all about. That's the pressure everyone is under, me included, and players have to go out and perform if they want to establish themselves as Premier League players."