Being written off as relegation favourites has and will continue to galvanise Brighton & Hove Albion, according to Chris Hughton.
The Seagulls were one of the promoted sides highly tipped for an immediate return to the Championship after securing an automatic promotion place last season.
Their start in the Premier League surprised many and they were up to the dizzy heights of eighth after their 11th game – a 1-0 win at Swansea.
Since then, as expected they would in spells in the top flight, Albion have faced a slump and Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat against Spurs left them without a win in six league matches.
Despite that, they remain 13th in the table, but are now only three points clear of the bottom three.
Hughton says relegation talk is something that they have used to their advantage, and commented: “It’s normal that we would be, at the start of the season, the bookies’ favourites to go back down again.
“What you have to do is use that in your favour in the changing room to motivate players.
“Overall, I have been pleased. If I take these last three games out of it and look at all our games and some of the results and performances then overall I have been pleased.
“At the start of season if you had told me we would have been here at this stage with the results we have got, then I would have been delighted with it.
“But it’s the next bits for us now. By our qualities and standards this season, we are going through a bad period of results. Fortunately for us, so are some other clubs. We now have to show that quality to keep the distance between ourselves and the bottom three.”
And while there were some shock starts to the season for many, Hughton believes the sides plenty was expected of are starting to improving.
Under Sam Allardyce, Everton are racing up the table, and while they still remain in the bottom three, both West Ham and Crystal Palace look to have turned a corner.
Hughton said: “Normally when you look at a league table and particular teams that are in a position you don’t expect them to be, what tends to happen over a period of a season is they work their way out of it.
“An example is Everton, nobody expected them to be where they were and everyone expected them to start climbing the table, which they have done and will probably continue to do.”
Hughton is grateful other results have been kind to them, but is clear on what Albion have to do.
“We have to get back to the things that we do best in the games that we can win,” he added.
“There are a big group of teams that can win games off each other. As soon as you know your result, you are looking at the results of the teams below you.
“What has happened in the last couple of weeks, some of the results have gone for us, but at some stage they won’t.”