(Reuters) - Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio appealed to the team's angry fans to stay positive despite a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion that left them rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table on Saturday.
Emotional Italian Di Canio approached the club's unhappy travelling support after the final whistle at The Hawthorns and gestured that they should keep their chins up.
"I knew that they were furious. I went to them because I wanted to see their faces. It's easy to go over when they're clapping or singing your name. I'm responsible but my head is up," he said in a post-match TV interview.
"The fans boo and insult and it is a part of the game. If I was in their position I would be furious."
Di Canio bemoaned his team's lack of leadership after their fourth defeat in the first five league games of the season.
"It's obvious we're still not together. We don't have many leaders in terms of desire to play with a premier style. We had our chances to come back into the game but we missed them and conceded very silly goals.
Midfielder Stephane Sessegnon, who Di Canio sold in the close season, opened the scoring with his first goal for West Brom before Liam Ridgewell and Morgan Amalfitano compounded Sunderland's misery.
"It's hard, it's tough but as a strong man I'm not worried. My head is always up - now it depends on the players," said Di Canio.
Exaggerated reactions have become a trademark of the Italian and his latest gestures only served to underline the plight Sunderland find themselves in.
"We need to take the best, which is very little, from today's game, and go again. The players have to help themselves and myself. We are down very deep but we have to make sure that we get a lift," he said.
(Writing by Tom Hayward; Editing by Ken Ferris)