Sam Allardyce felt Sunderland's performance against Manchester City was their best since his arrival at the club, but admits defeat leaves them in a precarious position in the Premier League.
Allardyce replaced Dick Advocaat at the helm in October and enjoyed a 3-0 home victory over fierce rivals Newcastle United in just his second game in charge.
But the 61-year-old believes their display in the 1-0 defeat to Manuel Pellegrini's title challengers was their strongest since his appointment.
However, with the loss keeping Sunderland four points adrift of safety in 19th, the manager admitted they are in a dangerous position.
"While this performance was the best since I've been here, we're in big trouble now when you look at the other results tonight," said Allardyce.
"We missed too many chances today and when you play a Manchester City side and have better chances than them, it shows the level of our performance.
"There's no result for us, the points aren't there, but the positives are."
Sunderland mounted an impressive end to the first half and Pellegrini responded by replacing Kelechi Iheanacho with Fernando, a move which Allardyce felt proved his side's quality on the night.
"It was a testament to our performance that they pulled off a striker at half-time and sent on a midfielder," he said.
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